Samet Durgun (b.1988) based in Berlin, is German with a Turkish migration background and of Abkhazian descent. He holds a BA from Bogazici University, Turkey. As a first-generation immigrant and self-taught artist in Germany, he was recently a guest student at the College of Fine Arts Berlin (UdK), participating in Common Ground, a support program for artists who fled or immigrated to Germany. His artworks are shown in local and international exhibition venues, including the Berlin Museum of Photography. https://www.sametdurgun.com/
I am a philosopher. My research focuses on philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, emotion theory, and aesthetics. I mainly work on emotions, art and implicit attitudes, such as implicit racist and sexist prejudices and stereotypes.
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at UAntwerp and KULeuven. In October 2019, I started doing interdisciplinary research with a team of social psychologists from Agnes Moors’ Lab at KULeuven on implicit bias and implicit racism. I received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the FWO (Flemish Research Foundation).
I took a break from this project during the academic year of 2020-2021, because I received the British Society of Aesthetics Postdoctoral Award, to do research on fiction, emotion and implicit attitudes at Birkbeck College (University of London).
I was a postdoctoral researcher at Thumos, which is part of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, at the University of Geneva (2018-2019). I received a Postdoctoral Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship to do research on emotion and implicit bias.
In 2018, I completed my doctoral studies in philosophy at UGent and UAntwerp, at Bence Nanay’s Research Group (Centre for Philosophical Psychology). My doctoral work is on emotion and mental content.
"What if photography is more about 'listening' than seeing?" Come Get Your Honey uses this question as a compass to tell a story about the LGBTQIA+ refugee and asylum seekers in Berlin. It is the artist's journey of weaving bonds at eye-level with individuals through vulnerability, friendship, and joy.
Samet Durgun strives to depict each individual as complex human beings in their wholeness, trying to establish a new home in a foreign country and in an extremely polarized political climate.
This is an image from “Come Get Your Honey”, a photography monograph by Samet Durgun. It portrays “gender-nonconforming, queer, transgender refugees and asylum seekers in Berlin”. Durgun himself is a queer first generation immigrant, living in Berlin.
Durgun asks the question: “What if photography is more about ‘listening’ than seeing?” Here is my interpretation of that idea: “photography as listening” is photography that is interested in what lies behind the surface. One is interested in the perspective of the portrayed person. Photography as listening aims at creating art that conveys knowledge.
This idea is, I believe related to what Miranda Fricker (2007) calls “epistemic injustice”. Feminist philosophers have discussed the injustices in practices of knowledge production. In traditional ways of producing knowledge in our society, some people are considered to be more trustworthy knowledge givers than others. Some perspectives are taking more into account than others. The perspective from people from marginalized groups are often not taken as reliable sources of knowledge. This is a form of in injustice: epistemic injustice.
I believe that art might help to combat this injustice. One can argue that, for instance, to inform you about what it is like to be a queer refugee, the best access to knowledge comes from queer refugees themselves. One can thus try to “listen”, if one is willing to understand. In doing so, it is also important to reflect on whose gaze one is serving in the artistic process. Is one portraying people in relation to one’s own goals or is one trying to understand?
Let us go back at the picture: does Durgun succeed in creating an image that might combat the wrongs of epistemic injustice? One can argue that Durgun’s standpoint is still the perspective of an outsider. Durgun is not a refugee or asylum seeker himself, so he is not fully part of this community. However, Durgun is a queer immigrant, so there are still some points of connection. There is a common ground but also an opportunity to learn, to listen and to understand. I find that this might create an interesting dialogue between photographer and photographed.
However, one can think that it is a bit too much to ask from photography that it combats epistemic injustice. As the photographer is literally ‘seeing” and ‘not listening”, I wonder whether photography is really the best medium to combat epistemic injustice. I think that the “seeing” versus “listening” metaphor can almost be understood literally. Seeing does seem to portray the subject matter from an “outside” perspective, only grasping the surface of a person. Whereas it is only in a conversation with a person, only by “listening” what a person has to say that we can fully grasp that person’s perspective.
This image is a portrait of one person, who’s resting his head intimately on another person whose face is not shown. The image is accompanied by the text: “I started doing makeup once I needed to cover a bruise after my father beat me (laughs). My mom gave me her concealer”.
One can “see” the person in an intimate sphere, one can see that the portrayed person is loved and receives affection. However, we still see this scene from an outsider’s perspective. It is only thanks to the accompanying text that we get a grasp of the perceptive of the portrayed person. A whole story is implied in very few sentences. They describe abuse, and probably a change in gender expression as a response (or protest) to this abuse. The text might enable the spectator to “listen”. Thus text might be a more suitable medium to combat epistemic injustice, rather than portraying people whose voice you want to hear through photography, as in the latter case, you are still “seeing” a person from a particular perspective.
The sharp contrast between photography and text is, however, an abstraction. In the actual work of Durgun, the text and the portrait complement each other. In this way photography can also “listen”.
Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic injustice: Power and the ethics of knowing. Oxford University Press.