Call me Ci. I was born in Beyoğlu, Istanbul on July 6th, 1986. I studied Italian Language and Literature at Istanbul University. Following that, I worked for advertising agencies as a copywriter and creative director for many years. I was 28 when I discovered visual storytelling. I did music photography and photojournalism for a while, then I decided to devote my time solely to my own stories.

My work is focused on Istanbul and its personal psychogeography. Adopting documentary as a secondary function, I tell stories using the scenes of my city. My distinct color palette is a derivation of the look of Italian giallos from the ‘70s, and I take cues from the cinematography of classic horror films in my visual language. All of my photographs take place in the daytime.

More about my work

  1. More information
  2. Exhibitions
  3. Texts
  4. Assignments
  5. Prints



Favourites

Suspiria (1977)
Cat’s Cradle (1963)
 The Smiths (1984)
Timeline of the far future



Blog posts

2023-08-29    Suzan

Texts


Foam Magazine
Extremes: The Environmental Issue, August 2023
Issue #64
Text by Demet Yıldız Dinçer
    Notion of a City is the third instalment of a multi-volume book project about Istanbul. Like the two previous editions which were conceived each by a different artist, in this photo book Ci Demi’s takes on his native town by focusing on Istanbul and its psychogeography. Demi’s photographic language takes its inspiration from the colour palette of Italian murder mystery fictional films of the 1970s, known as giallos, and borrows visual elements from the horror film genre. In this intriguing portrait of the city, Demi tells a story of Istanbul with crucial elements missing from its narration, much like Georges Perec’s ‘Oulipo novel’ La Disparition, written without using the letter e. The artist intentionally omits people, animals, language, and important clues indicating the location of the photographs. With only a few hints available, such as vegetation and construction sites, the reader encounters familiar scenes and objects, but is left perplexed by this—as Demi describes—‘horror photo book’. FM


Switch Magazine
Feature, April 2023
“Istanbul’s psychogeography and human nature: Ci Demi’s photography”
Text by Clara Massaad
    Every shot tells us a story, and with these stories, Demi tells us something about ourselves.

    There is no nobler art than telling stories, and as with every art, even storytelling is a challenging mission. One has to find his own aesthetic, style, and imagery and Ci Demi created his visual language to tell stories about his hometown, Istanbul.

     Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Demi later went on to pursue a degree in Italian language and literature at the University of Istanbul. After University, he started his career working as a copywriter and creative director for different agencies. At 28, he found a calling in the art of visual storytelling, and for a while after he dabbled in music photography and photojournalism before deciding to fully devote himself to telling stories through his artistic projects.

    It's at this point in his life and career that he decided to focus his work on Istanbul. Using sceneries of his city Demi concocted versatile series of real-life “episodes” that show us the intimate psychogeography of Istanbul intending to expose the everyday stories that come with it. But, of course, with that peculiar eye that distinguishes him.

    Demi is indeed known for the darker artistic edge he adopts to tell his stories. For his visual language, he prominently combines the use of a distinct bright colour palette, originally derived from the Italian 70’s look, along with slight clues to horror cinematography. The intended paradox, however, lies in the timing of his photographs as they hint at gloomy aspects, but are always shot during the daytime.

    One of his pictures features, in fact, a cemetery. If we close our eyes and imagine a place crawling with tombs, we will unconsciously be inclined to attribute darker colours and a spooky environment to this visual picture we are drawing in our head. On the other hand, when we look at Demis’s photograph, we see a glowing open shot of a graveyard surrounded by beautiful greenery.

    When reflecting however, we realize that the tragedy is even more highlighted than it might be in a traditional funeral-related milieu as it postulates the reality of normalized forgotten human suffering. Demi’s approach is a colourful embrace of a darker side of a “laissez-fair” life mantra. In another shot, he continues capitalizing on a raw canvas of calm nature as he shows us a framed picture of burgundy autumn trees. The colour assortment promotes a glorified depiction of pain. Once again, we see doomsday through the lens of a majestic painting.

    Demi is dramatic, yet straightforward. This characteristic of his is communicated in another picture featuring a beaming day shot of a pool covered with nets. Just like the nets, humans get entangled with worldly problems, but even when trying to escape, they sometimes tend to fail and find themselves prisoners of a porcelain neat failed attempt of a way out. Speaking of porcelain, what other than ballet completes the image of refinement? In Demi’s shot, however, the ballerina lies there intensely stretching within an array of mesmerizing colours, fabrics, and dresses and a deafening struggle between discipline, physique, and the weight of brilliant art.

    Just like the enchanting ballerina is locked in her reality, another photograph zooms in on a rope locked around a dock anchor like the long-lost missing piece of the puzzle. Indeed, harmony is found within the realms of order

    As we shift to another photograph, which is an artistic piece belonging to a more extended street series project, we see that tranquillity is part of the routine as well. A working man standing in front of a pink bus in his uniform is as much of a representative of the human paradigm as anyone else.

    The following picture is one of a raven landing on a taxi cab ever so effortlessly as a man waking up in the morning and drinking coffee. It is all about the little things in life. Details make up the budling blocks of organization in this world before we enable our adaption to the different circumstances we encounter.

    However, all paths of human affairs start somewhere, and a photograph showing metal anchors used in the construction of building foundations reminds us of the importance of always remembering our foundations.

    Finally, the ultimate shot of windy drapes covering a building reminds us of the spontaneity of the events of the world. The same wind which might start blowing out of nowhere on a regular sunny day might come again blowing on another tragically eventful day. In the end, every shot Ci Demi takes in Istanbul tells us a story, and with these stories, he tells us more about ourselves than the actual images. SM


Zamane İstanbulları (Istanbuls Today)
Exhibition text, December 2022
Text by Serdar Darendeliler
Translation by Yağmur Telaferli
    Devoting his photography and storytelling entirely to Istanbul, focusing all his work on the city and its personal psycho-geographical readings, Ci Demi is a photo storyteller who blends the documentary photography approach with autobiographical elements.

    In Signs That Everything Is Going Wrong, Demi not only once again photographs his relationship, bond, and interactions with Istanbul, but also, through the lens of what is happening in his own life, turns the city -which is transformed, covered behind construction screens, kept standing by support, and whose surfaces are constantly renewed- into a story. Demi, who equates Istanbul to a “sinister” surface area and defines the job of taking pictures with this city, in this city, as “photographing an invisible monster”, creates an idiosyncratic corpus of İstanbul’s familiar quirks, with the effect of his colour palette and an almost invariable emotional distance towards his subjects.


Decalogue Magazine
Feature, November 2022
“The Truth Behind Reality”
Text by Erika Giulietti
    Born in the middle of the 80’s, Ci Demi is a Turkish photographer and visual story teller from Beyoğlu, Istanbul. Before totally dedicating himself to story telling using photography as his most powerful tool, Ci Demi studied Italian Language and Literature at Istanbul University and worked for advertising agencies as copywriter and creative director.

    The variety of channels the artist experimented through time is clearly detectable when observing his photographic gathering. Indeed, Ci Demi’s photographs — swinging from a great example
of photojournalism to the most aesthetically pleasing colours you’ll ever have the chance to see in your life — feel like a love letter to his hometown city: a place barely looking real if filtered through the artist’s personal vision, where every element seem to be fed with curiosity and good intentions.

    His very personal and identifier color palette is the result of the artist’s studies of Italian 70’s “Giallos” — as declared by Ci Demi himself. Once these kind of details are noticed, one can’t help by being transported by the cultural-mixed visual code owning a strong presence in Ci Demi’s photographs.

    If you think the artist’s visual language is complex enough, here’s an invite to grant a closer inspection to the structure of his pictures: “(...) I take clues from the cinematography of classic horror films” — Ci Demi stated — “even though almost all of my photographs take place in the daytime”. The contrast between the pleasing, pastel color palette and the horror inspiration behind Ci Demi’s photographs is something rarely experimented when it comes to photography, but it helps us understanding the reason why we would not struggle to recognise some similarities between the artist’s photographs and the cinematography of the amazingly visually designed Ari Aster’s “Midsommar”.

    Ci Demi’s photographs are enriched with inventiveness, where different inspirations and elements coming from the artist’s life experience are blended together in order to create his distinctive, intimate own world. DM


Mamut Art Project
Exhibition text, October 2022
Text by Hande Oynar
Translation by Sıla Okur
    Ci Demi, who has worked as a photojournalist and video journalist in the recent past, is an experienced eye in capturing inconspicuous details while coursing through the familiar chaos of the city. The photographs, which are both from the combination of the agility of journalism and the depth of the artist’s emotional world, differ from their counterparts with both color palette and content integrity. Ci Demi’s frames, which bear the signature of a melancholic urban traveler, sometimes point to a lost past, to an irreversible erosion, and sometimes to a loneliness that has a sense of humor despite everything. According to him, the whole of his photographic practice can be seen as an effort to transform the expressions and sense of humor he uses in his daily conversations into visual.

   Unutursan Darılmam (Translation: No Offence If You Forget — Localisation: I Won’t Be Upset If You Forget Me) is a series of photographs that bear the traces of a very difficult period that the artist went through in 2019. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and taking medication, Ci Demi testifies to a fragile, delicate but at the same time brutally honest relationship with the city. This series, which he focuses on and still continues as he tries to regain his mental health, makes him discover his own colors and perspective with a healing effect. MAP


British Journal of Photography
Tradition & Identity, July/August 2022
Issue 7909
Text by Diane Smyth
    In a video game called GeoGuessr, players are pitched into a random place located via Google Maps and have to work out where they are. The best clues often lie in the street signs, but when Ci Demi started working on his Istanbul-based series Şehir Fikri (Notion of a City) he decided to take them out. Then, inspired by Georges Perec’s novel A Void (1969) — which dispenses with the letter ‘e’ — he went further and removed the people and animals. “I tend to photograph these quiet moments so at first you’re not sure what’s going on, then you look closer and realise something weird is taking place,” he says. “It’s unclear whether you’re in Istanbul or Turkey or wherever, I love creating that tension.”

   It is an intriguing approach from an image-maker who has devoted himself to Istanbul, his hometown. But though Demi is a committed street photographer, who spends at least two hours a day walking and shooting, his images are not about Istanbul as such. Instead they are a portrait of how city makes him feel, a personal psychogeography. “Documenting Istanbul is a secondary function of my photographs,” he says. “For most of my stories I want to set a certain emotion. It’s not really a comfortable life here, or at least that’s how it feels to me. It’s crowded, it’s loud, and it’s ever-expanding.”

   Demi was born in 1986 in the Beyoğlu district, grew up in the Kadıköy neighbourhood, and spent many summers in İzmir, a city further south on the Aegean. All three places are known for being progressive. He studied Italian literature at Istanbul University, and only got into photography at the age of 28, after buying a camera on a whim. His work is informed by his interest in Italy, and in particular his love of giallos — mysteries and thrillers that were first published as pulp fiction and then as popular films in 1960s and 70s. Giallo movies have highly stylised colours and tones, and Demi freely edits his images to evoke them. Şehir Fikri, for example, revolves around blues, oranges and greens, and Demi has turned down the contrast throughout. “My colours are independent of what Istanbul looks like,” he says. “The oranges came together when I was making the book with the editor.”

   Demi describes this book as a ‘photonovella’ and says it will be published soon by Onagöre [page 22], as part of the Turkish publisher’s ongoing series on Istanbul. Demi adds that he is excited about Onagöre’s programme, and by organisations such as Cemre Yeşil Gönenli’s FiLBooks [page 26], a publisher and photobook shop launched by the photographer in the city. But, he says, he often has to look beyond Turkey to make sense of his photography and make a living. Indeed, he has had considerable success internationally, showing his series Will the World End in the Daytime at Les Rencontres d’Arles, and selected as one of the finalists in Encontros da Imagem’s Discovery Awards in 2022 for his series Unutursan Darılmam (I Won’t Be Upset If You Forget Me).

   But Demi’s work remains embedded in Istanbul — and more than that, in his own way of seeing the city. Unutursan Darılmam stems from a major depression he suffered in 2019, for example, when he spent much of his time at home. “The author seeks melancholic moments; serene, dreary, and sometimes chilling — often restless, but also loving,” he writes. “But also, the body of work documents nothing.” BJP