Berna Yengin

“Soul of equality”

What’s your background? How did you started to illustrate and work as an illustrator?

The fact that I have been following cartoon – humor magazines since high school and I love cartoons, made me draw cartoons although I studied in the painting department. After university I worked as a illustrator and professional cartoonist in various humor magazines for 4-5 years. In this process, the illustrations that I made appeared when I was trying to blend cartoon and pattern in my own way.

What does your work aim to say? 

First of all , as a woman who is living alone in an oppressive, authoritarian, underdeveloped, patriarchal country , i aim to rehabilitate myself and to involve more people in this liberation process with the illustrations I made while aiming to be liberated through paper, pencil and paints.

How does your work comment on current social or political issues? 

While living in a geography where political social events were intense, it was impossible for me – especially as an artist-  to remain insensitive to these events. In addition, I have completed my master’s degree in sociology as of this year  in order to further deepen my perspective and perception, and to better understand and analyze the society. On the other hand, due to my ethnic origin, some difficulties caused by being a member of a class defined as a minority in these lands and the problems of being a woman trying to live alone in the middle east country left me alone with the fact that being at the center of social events. The main problems of developing countries are; social conflicts, inequality, injustice and related violations of rights. As one of the countries where these problems are experienced the most, we hear, witness and experience violence and abuse incidents against children, animals and women every day. First of all, as a sensitive person, I position myself against all these violations of rights and try to reflect it on my work.

Who are your biggest influences?

The main reference source of my work is women, the theme of femininity.  This is mostly manifested not as a gender but as a state of femininity, difficulties experienced, feelings and struggles. There are so many artists that I am impressed with, the number of our really talented artists is quite high, I just don’t think they see the value they deserve. In this country where art and artist cannot see the value they deserve under any circumstances, every artist who makes his voice against all injustice, oppression, lawlessness and who does not ignore is source of inspiration for me. When I try to name it, the list will be so long that I only have to mention a few; Aslı Alpar, Esin Özbek, Fahrelnisa Zeid, Yiğit Can Alper, Sedat Girgin, Zeynep Yıldıral, Zeynep Özatalay.

What is your life motto? How do you go through the day in Istanbul?

My motto is this; “It is possible that all species can live in fair and equal conditions”. I am a painting teacher at a public school. In my remaining time, I work with associations ; that carry out different social responsibility projects, make ceramic sculptures and read for sociological research.

What was your biggest impression of berlin?

The first word that comes to my mind when it comes to Berlin is ‘memory’. Because although it is a very cosmopolitan and modern city, it is a place full of traces and symbols that remind of the World War II and Nazi period massacres.

What do you want to reach with your illustrations? 

The most prominent feature of male-dominated societies is to push the woman into the shadow of the man, to try to show her as weak and helpless, to ignore. Patriarchal societies are afraid of women and either ignore or try to destroy what they fear as a social instinct. The point I want to come to and the thing I am trying to do is to change this perception with my illustrations.

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