Reframe artist statement and work: Murat Mıhçıoğlu

Murat Mıhçıoğlu is the founder of Studio Rodeo, a flexible initiative for authentic comic book production and co-founder of Rodeo Editions. After studying English and American Literature at Istanbul University for two years, he decided to study at the Painting Department of Mimar Sinan Academy of Fine Arts. His involvement in creating and editing comics dates back to the mid 1980s, but it’s only after starting the monthly Rodeo Strip magazine in 2004 that this form of communication began to take most of his time as a writer and editor. He was awarded as an art critic in 1998, and as a science-fiction writer twice recently. Currently, Mıhçıoğlu is working on a special extension to Comicstanbul under the title Gezi Comics. 

When I was first introduced to the concept of Reframe, it struck me that I had to write something that involved manipulation, mentalism and misdirection. My interest in magic started as a child. I wanted to explore this theme and especially illusionist Derren Brown’s work with fellow graphic novelist Cem Özüduru. We began to make plans about how we could a) use this kind of mentalism in the process of making comics b) make comics directly on the subject of mentalism.

In the final days of May 2013, something like an uprising broke out in Istanbul. The districts where Cem and I lived were boiling up. We were angry with a lot of things, the foremost of which was the attitude of the Prime Minister, who seemed to have no idea why and how calm people like us could get angry.

One day I took a walk around Taksim, which was – for the first time in its history – a police-free zone surrounded by barricades built by people who were considered to be totally apolitical until recently. This was the first revolutionary environment I had actually ever been to, and to my surprise, I had found it not in a South American town I was visiting as an alien observer, but just a few kilometers from where I live.

After several weeks of a colourful yet tense chaos and amidst the grey fogs of tear gas, conspiracy theories began to surface. The only people not responsible for what was going on were those who had tried to remove trees from Gezi Park!... Everything was a set-up, the innocent youngsters were made to hate their own democratically elected government through myriad schemes. It was all mass-manipulation, etc.

In the process of writing the texts, I kept trying to identify myself with all parties involved: The protesters, the government, the foreign observers, the trees... The most comforting thing was to identify with the ‘host’ of the pages, namely Derren Brown... Because he was the only one to have the self-awareness that was essential in understanding the true mechanism of such social behaviours.

Murat Mıhçıoğlu, Cem Özüduru and Naz Tansel have collaborated to make their three stories, which are in a way interlinked by one recurring theme: illusionism. Below is Angry Turks. See Cem Özüduru and Naz Tansel's profiles to read the comics.