Humanity Explored in a Space More Dollhaus Than Dollhouse

Ever wondered what happens when you splice together the modern state of human relationships, the fragility of our social boundaries, love, and changing identities? Can Dagarslani has, and the architecture student turned photographer with a penchant for urban space has dubbed the product the “new normal”. What is the new normal? Well, words might be hard to find, but images are not: the new normal is seen in ageing near-identical models, in Bauhaus space, in affection, in fragility, and in inflatable rubber rings. Can you tell what it is yet?


Can graduated from the Turkish Mimar Sinan University of Fine Art in 2016 as a mature student, and has been honing this “new normal” style ever since – Serenity in particular focuses on symmetry, asymmetry, and the game that’s played when we mistake one for the other. It’s a fond take on a playful theme, a humorous current that is felt in much of his work, and offers a lighter and brighter take on human relationships. It offers, in other words, a bit of artistic and compositional … serenity.


Hoping Can will forgive us the bad joke, we got in touch with him to hear a little more about his work.

The Plus: The series is called “serenity” – are you a calm person yourself?
Can Dagarslani:
Haha, you need to ask my friends this question, but from my point of view: yes, definitely I am.

TP: Could you tell us a bit more about the couple in the series?
For this series I was dreaming of two identical and inseparable elderly models, dressed and positioned in the same way, who would seem almost static: raised and articulated, like dolls. Models are an important piece of the puzzle. So I often search for them, and when we get in contact I try to analyse them to get a feel for whether or not they’re a perfect fit for the series – this in terms of personality and not just visuals. 


TP: So what were the visuals you wanted from the models for this series?
In the end the two bodies merged into one: in a unique and extraordinary, yet weirdly natural, identity. They look more like grotesque sculptures. And I like to emphasise this power by focusing on the relationship between them. Human relations, the fragility of our social boundaries, love, identities and all these other drugs, are some of my preferred themes.


TP: You’ve used couples before, too – does it affect the way that you shoot?
In my latest series I have mostly portrayed two people, making them both an integral part of the project together with the diverse architectural elements. The search for `identity` is the point of origin for these series. The unusual sensation of synchronised faces staring out at the viewer will entice them initially to look for physical similarities, before realising that the two characters are not actually related. So I expose the similarities and explore the differences of them as two sides of the same coin, through this apparent symmetry.


TP: You talk about diverse architectural elements – what drew you to this particular location?
I made this series, which questions the existence of a practical way of life in serenity, in the Bauhaus school of Dessau. The starting point of the series became the contrast I wanted to create between the models and the three main colours of Bauhaus – red, blue, and yellow – whilst bringing out the organic changes of perception that are evident in my work. And, for sure, the architect in me is always wanting to shoot in masterpieces such as this place.


TP: Given this architectural background, is there a particular building you’d love to use in a shoot one day?
I always take notes of architectural buildings, which inspire me in my everyday life. I’ve been living in New York for some months, and before I will leave US I’m planning to shoot in one of my favourite architectural places. For now I prefer to keep it as a secret.

TP: You mention the “New Normal” – could you expand on that for us?
“New Normal” can be simply seen in my work. If I wanted to describe this in words, then I would be an author and not a photographer.