Baklava meets Anna Karayorgi: Making Puppets Come Alive!

Anna Karayorgi was born and raised in Istanbul, she is a dual citizen of Turkey and Greece. Her grandpa is a Greek who fell in love with a Turkish woman and relinquished his Greek citizenship in order to stay by Anna’s grandma in 1950s. Besides her associate degree in photography, she holds an undergraduate degree from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSGSU) in the field of stage and costume design, with a focus on puppetry and shadow theatre.

Curious about the rest of her story? Read on to learn more.

“I do not come from a family that is surrounded with art. In fact, there was only my grandpa who was into art but I know him mostly through the stories being told. He was practicing gilding in various churches and houses. ”

“I was graduated from Zappeion High School, which is known as one of the Greek schools of Istanbul. The majority of the lessons are taught in Greek, except Turkish language and history courses. Although science and math courses have some sort of a universal language of their own, it was quite challenging for us to deal with the national examination system in that conditions. Nevertheless, in terms of social facilities our school let us stage a play each year and even offered us a chance to perform in Greece. I feel like those years had a great influence on my tendency to art.”

Anna with one of her puppets, Tyrone from the play “Tanrının Eli”

“I assume that hand-made things attract me the most in general.

“I was also interested in gastronomy, I still love cooking and I bet people like what I do. While I was getting prepared for the examination of MSGSU, I was also willing to apply for Yeditepe, where I was expected to pass the special talent examination. Later on, I noticed that being in the kitchen in professional manner does not really fit in my personality. Producing the same exact thing is not what I desire for future.”

“Istanbul is like an oasis in a desert in terms of varying opportunities.”

” As a dual citizen, I prefer being here in Istanbul rather than Europe. For instance, I was used to apply for a graaduate program in Greece but I figured out that the offered programs does not suits my major since there is no subfield as stage, costume and puppet designing.”

“Greece might be considered as more selective in the field of art so that the artwork would become much more refined than it would be in considerably bigger cities. Nowadays, the aesthetic pollution level is on top in Istanbul. On the one hand, consistency in production brings efficiency on meeting the needs of the contemporary society; but on the other hand, dissatisfaction has become inevitable. People seem less motivated as they produce “as much as possible”.

Anna, Bomontiada

“MSGSU relies mainly on traditional methods with hands-on materials such as water color painting while some other ecoles offers courses like tablet drawing, which may contribute to the requirements of the modern era. It could be more efficient if modern and classic could melt in the same pot, that could make sense.”

Masalların Masalı on manual cinema

“My graduation project was inspired by one of the poems of Nazım Hikmet, called as “Masalların Masalı”. It was planned to be an installation art but became a piece that is evolved by itself. We, as a team, tried to bring our innovative approach to the traditional shadow theatre understanding and the result satisfactory. We decided to use overhead projector, it looked glorious on wall and widely liked by audience. Afterwards, we are accepted as one of the first artists of Yapı Kredi Alt 29’59’’ in February 2018. It did not last long because of the technical difficulties. In the following year, I made puppets for a theatre in Nicosia, Cyprus but the puppet player had a last minute health issue so that the play is adjourned. Besides, I made a mascot for the municipality theatre of Bakirkoy, Istanbul. Currently, I have been working for “Bayan Kostak and Kuzgun”, which is inspired by a famous poem of Edgar Allan Poe. 

“The process of puppet making primarily involves reading and analyzing the text, interpreting on what you read and sketching. In that step, there is a collaboration between the author and the puppet designer. In a way, the designer summarize the given data and reflects it to the artwork. Afterwards, the designer selects the materials to be used and begins producing. You, as a designer, need at least one month to complete a basic piece.”

“Watching my puppets on stage is an inexplicable experience, seeing them alive and being appreciated by the audience is priceless. Sometimes, it feels hard to let them go.”

“Bayan Kostak and Kuzgun”: On the 5th of January for the first time in DasDas Sahne by “Kronotop”.

Tanrı’nın Eli: On the 7th of January at Toy Istanbul by Two Two Production & ŞAFT.

Click on to see more of her handcrafts via Behance.