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MUNTHE ART MONDAY: HELIN ERDEM

Name: Helin Erdem
Instagram: @helinerde

Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do. 

My first name, Helin means bird’s nest in Kurdish and my last name Erdem was forced onto my family by the Turkish military regiment, when they had to be registered and assimilated as Turks, around hundred years ago. I am a 23 years old Kurdish-Danish woman who live in the Copenhagen area. I am on DRs Talent teams, make Music and illustrate books on the daily. 

Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?

I became hyper aware of my body and what it signals at a very young age. I have experienced my body from the outside, both in Danish and Kurdish/Turkish context. From the eyes of the perceiver. In theory of female objectification, I understand that I do habitual body monitoring, as I am in a constant State of awareness of what my body looks like and what it communicates. I often find myself monitoring my body according to the male gaze and that has created conflict within me. In extension to this conflict, meat, body, skin and sex has gotten a gross undertone in somewhere in my head. I often touch on faces, bodies or something gross in my art, because I’m teaching myself to see beauty within it. For a long time, I tried to keep my art carrier separate from my identity as a woman and poc. However, time has made me realize that I am not there yet.

Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?

A reason I found Art Monday interesting, is exactly because I do not have any female role models or inspirations in the arts. It May be pure ignorance not seeking any. However, without seeking any specific gender, I only have male role models within the arts (Michael Kvium, Animator John R Dilworth, Hayao Miyazaki, Faig Ahmed, Francis Bacon, film instructor Bahman Ghobadi, Photographer Olgac Bozalp, Bjarne Reuter etc. My list might be diverse in nationality, but it may also testify that I have bought into the romanticized idea of the male gender, the man, and everything he has done... That I can thank the educational system and the patriarchy for, without disclaiming any responsibility.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?

Being a Kurdish woman in Denmark, has impacted me in a way that my audience often expect me to rebel against my heritage or expose it in some way. I am tired of the fact that, Brown women always must act as representative of their cultural background and gender, and what annoys me mostly, is the combination of these two. It is inevitable to use yourself in your art, our interpretation of the world is who we are individually. Yet, it Can be experienced as dehumanizing for a minority group, to constantly be confronted with being a caricatured representative for a culture or a gender - and not just a good artist, athlete or academic.

What would you like people to notice in your artwork?

Art gives us the opportunity to see through the eyes of the artist. I want to share my view with people, and I want to see what others do and understand them better. It is actually a very pedagogical process with art. It is a dialogue that highlights that our language is limiting. I believe that it should become habitual to feel and sense our world and that methods like these should be more accepted as valid sources of knowledge production in the West. Hereto, I believe that the world should be communicated through art, because it makes an honest and limitless attempt in communicating. We are many who keep communicating through art, and every time we share our eyes, we create new life. It is the Genesis creating myth in the hand of humans. I wish to awaken a thought in my audience’s heads that can make existing a bit more lively.

Each monday we bring you a fresh interview with a female artist.

Follow along at MUNTHE ART MONDAY.