Ankara Queer Art Program

“We are surrounded by and we also exist under binary structures that in my opinion, prevent us from truly experiencing who we are, who we can be, and what we do”: Interview with Saskya Fun Sang


“We are surrounded by and we also exist under binary structures that in my opinion, prevent us from truly experiencing who we are, who we can be, and what we do”:  Interview with Saskya Fun Sang


Şafak Şule Kemancı



Membranas Sagradas, Shoulder pads, metallic thread 



Şafak: Hi, Saskya, how are you these days? How is the pandemic affecting your day to day life and art practice?



Saskya: I am feeling very good to be honest. I feel guilty for saying that considering everything that is happening around the world but I am happy and more than anything I feel hopeful. I can’t say I was feeling this way last year, but since the end of December a lot of things in my life started to take an interesting, more positive turn and I am grateful for that.


One of the aspects that have changed is that now I have so much more time to focus on my practice and develop a new line of work… last year things slowed down and I was working full time so I didn’t really had the time (or the energy) to create. I need to be able to be fully present while creating and that is one thing that I really struggled with last year. My mind was all over the place all the time.




Şafak: What drew your interest in the Ankara Queer Art program?



Saskya: I’ve been wanting to expand and take my practice to new places. Even though I lived abroad for almost six years, my practice was mostly focused between USA and Ecuador. When I learned about the Ankara Queer Program I got interested right away, not only because of the program location but more specially because of what the program stands for and what its trying to do with its support to creative practices that are trying to break with established binaries within the art scene. Having the opportunity to meet other artists that are in a similar line of thought and learn about Ankara’s history of activism and art really feels like a very unique experience.




Descarga repentina (de la tensión sexual acumulada), Needle felting, synthetic and natural wool



Şafak: Did you grow up in Guayaquil? When did your interest in art start? 


Saskya: I did, I grew up in Guayaquil where most of my family used to live. Guayaquil is the second main city in Ecuador and it is also the largest. I grew up surrounded mostly by my dad’s side of the family. Both my grandma and grandpa were children of Chinese immigrants, and they were also big travellers so there was a lot of that very unique essence (which came from their experiences abroad) present in our home.


I was totally an artistic child. Which to me it is still a little surprising since there are no other artists in my family. I always wonder what pushed me in that direction… But I do think that the fact that my parents were always so encouraging had a huge impact on me. I always say that I grew up in a very free environment, and I am super grateful for that. I started painting when I was 7 years old and I remember saying I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t really know what that meant or how that could be possible but I was able to understand at a very young age that I was a creative individual.




Şafak: Would you say your work is autobiographical?



Saskya: Absolutely. I don’t really know how to create unless it comes from real life experiences. I mean, I can but its not what I enjoy doing. I guess what I want to say is for me, every piece I make its definitely my way of understanding things such as pain, love, fear, struggle, etc. It sounds very cliché, I know but I do need to go through that process of creating from experience in order to fully understand what is happening. That is why I always say that for me, my process is more important that the final product. The piece can be great and all that but the higher value is placed on the emotional, mental and creative process that takes place before the piece is completed.

I also think this is what allows me to create work that is genuine and transparent, I’m not trying to make it pretty, I’m just trying to be honest. And if I am not able to find an answer, I do end up with even more questions.




Şafak: Why is it important for you to tell your story in the most honest and raw way possible and what kind of effect did this have in your life?



Saskya: I’ve always felt attracted to art that feels honest. Growing up most of my artistic references where women artists making art that was very brave, not only because of the formats they were choosing for their work but also because of the topics they were touching on. I appreciate that. I appreciate artists learning and then sharing that new knowledge in an honest and humble way. I also think the fact that I’m interested in education plays a huge part in this, I do try to educate through my practice. Whether that means educating about female sexuality or the female body, or maybe how to deal with someone’s death. We’ve all been there, but for some reason we are still afraid of being vulnerable.





ULTIMA RATIO, p.77., Photographic series

Şafak: You are an educator besides being an artist. When you talk about your art, you mention your interest in educating your audience about gender, feminism and female body through your artistic practice. While doing that, you get to research and learn about these subjects too. Let’s talk a bit more about this cycle and how it is reflected in your art.



Saskya: Most of my work has a lot of research behind. That research looks different depending on what I am talking about and what experience I’m bringing in to the practice but I like to make sure that the information I’m sharing (even if is a very small amount of it) is accurate and that people are going to be able to go back to it in one way or another. It is really important for me to be respectful and empathetic towards whoever is going to look at my work, I don’t want to make up things or give false information. This is why I always try to make a point of specifying where that information is coming from (texts, books, documentaries, personal experiences, etc). It’s a back and forth between art and education for me. At this point, I cannot do one without the other.




Şafak: Could we say you have a sympathetic relationship with your audience? You invite us in to your world, want us to look at you, listen to you, ask questions and learn about the topics you work with.




Saskya: I like to think I do. My work has a lot of humour too. And I’ve found that this aspect makes it easier for people to connect with the work. Its like it creates a safer, more comfortable space to discuss uncomfortable things. And people do open up because of that, which is amazing. My goal is usually to create a chain of information and I’ve seen that happen a lot of times. I don’t want to make it complicated for the audience, I want them to engage and to question but in a way that most people are going to feel encouraged enough to participate and share, not necessarily with me but with whomever they chose to do so.





[des]apego, for my siblings, Handmade glass spheres, burned milk teeth, waxed thread



Şafak: Let’s talk about your creative process. What fuels it?



Saskya: Women, bodies, gender, sex, sexuality, orgasm, boobs, nipples, vaginas, vulvas, clitoris, sluts, language, weight, layers of skin, volume, imperfections, empowerment, disobedience, excess, moans, fluids, energy, love, sisters, baggage, pain, loss, strength, courage, womanhood, voices, honesty, transparency, sharing, feelings, hornyness, emotions, foreplay, relationships, broken hearts, tears, blood, bruises, legs, mouths, kisses, lovers, darkness, sensitivity, sensibility, non-binary, sunlight, rain, femmes, liars, lies, wetness, marks, scars, queerness, curves, lips, touch, contact, hugs, preconceptions, nudity, shame, misunderstandings, dating apps, nasty women, eating disorders, self-harm, self-esteem, difficult women, expectations, disappointments, survival, safety, pleasure, innocence, guilt, sins, sinners, the female gaze, fears, gold, beauty, perverts, cunts, feminism.




No. 3 from the series My Flaws are Otherworldly (and I want you to look at them) Stoneware, gold luster, matte glaze.



Şafak: You are an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. How do you think this translates in to your work? Do you think the ambiguous spaces you create in your work could be seen as queer spaces? 


Saskya: I do think these ambiguous spaces can be seen as queer spaces. We are surrounded by and we also exist under binary structures that in my opinion, prevent us from truly experiencing who we are, who we can be, and what we do. I find that to be very problematic. Within my artistic practice and thanks to amazing teachers/experiences that inspired me to learn about feminist, queer, transgender theory, I’ve been able to create a space where all creative possibilities are welcome and that has also changed my perspective and the way I approach not only art, but also life in general. I believe that when we approach things from a queer perspective, we allow ourselves to dig deeper and to be more genuine with ourselves and with our practices. We also become braver, more open and flexible, which impacts absolutely everything we do. 








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