Growing up in Turkey, Ilkin was surrounded by a family of artisans. These figures held positions as painters, educators, poets, tailors and shoemakers — a unique experience that became formative in developing Ilkin’s innate ability for curation and creation. Pairing this with a culturally rich upbringing, you’ll find Ilkin’s work to be playful, experimental, and at times, sensitive. Despite her position, at the very essence, Ilkin Kurt is a storyteller. And regardless of her medium, we’re sure that many people are listening.
You recently got to spend some time overseas, after a long hiatus from travelling, like the rest of the world. What did you see, smell, taste, or experience that piqued your interest?!
It actually was a weird experience. I think how we experienced Covid with strict rules here in Australia was so intense that when I got to Europe, I couldn’t adjust. It took me a while to feel and act free again.
I took 10 weeks off, privileged enough to collect so many wonderful memories, literally I re-coloured my life. Venice was a highlight, my partner and I really wanted to make our way to the La Biennale Di Venezia. It felt like only a biennale could have fed my hunger for art and of course Italy for food.
Cecilia Alemani (the curator of the Biennale) did an amazing job, the city was feeling and living with art. “Human Brains: It Begins with an Idea” at Fondazione Prada was just excellent. For a cultural institution whose identity is rooted in the field of visual arts, dealing with science is an intellectual and political challenge. There was a darkroom where thirty-six neuroscientists, psychologists, neurolinguistics, and philosophers from five continents are broadcast in an assembly of thirty-two screens. That was quite clever and visually spectacular.
Who is inspiring you right now? Who's doing cool stuff?
Cultural events around the world have been inspiring me more than anything lately. Sirkhane, Sirkhane Dark Room, Manufactoriel, Far Near have been doing an amazing job on cultural events, broadening perspectives of Asia, Middle East and African&Black contemporary culture. My mates at Total Luxury Spa always inspire me, they are an amazing community. Love their new collab with i-D. Katie Grand and her magazine Perfect is really exciting and inspiring.
"I believe in the power of doing. If you touch an idea too much without actually making it, it dies. If it doesn't work out, that's fine. Shelf it."
If you weren't working in fashion what would you be doing?
Probably doing something in the film or music industry. Storytelling is my favourite thing and any platform that would give me that, it is home.
Do you think storytelling is in your DNA?
I think it is, this desire to speak up and use your voice with a camera to go out and document things or collaborate with other creatives through editorials & projects or even the way that I use my social media platforms… I think that storytelling was always built within me, even though when I was an introvert and really kept to myself… When I started to share it, it made me a different human. There is a big chance it is related to my culture and family too, passing things down through words to your children and grandchildren…
How is your creative process for an editorial or project that you act as creative director?
A gallery owner friend once told me, David Hockney, whenever he needs to reinvent his painting, he goes into something else: he writes an art history book, or he makes a movie, and then he comes back to art and it gives him new ideas. I feel like my creative process is the same. When I have a creative project, I go to things that feed the idea. Stuff that gives me a new perspective. Poetry and libraries are my best friends.
I just do things on set without thinking about the before and after. I have no imagination, no memory. I act on the moment, especially with creative direction. You already store ideas about what you wanna bring on the table, the rest happens in the moment.
Do you find that fashion and culture are more politically activated now than it was in the past?
RHCP call it jamming, the youth is jamming. They get together and talk about; politics, human rights, music, film... not afraid to share their ideas, happily investigating what is a good idea. Conversations about cancelled culture, together. The answer is yes.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Oh, I don't believe in a guilty pleasure, anything that shifts your mood into a happy place should be celebrated. That 'guilty pleasure' thing should be parked in a one-way street forever. Own what you like, like what you own.
If you made your own podcast, what would it be about? What would you call it?
I would just invite people that I would love to meet in real life… Authors, directors, scientists, musicians, designers… It would have been so much fun. I probably would call it something like ‘Right Right Right’ Or ‘Double Demerits’…
What turns you on?
The unfamiliar feeling... and the familiar feeling that hasn't been felt for so long.
What turns you off?