Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) - Ornaments I-VII
My praxis is research based and influenced by the sociopolitics of my motherland, which she extrapolate to my current setting. Narratives of and around MENA women in historically silenced topics –politics, sex, religion, trauma– are central to my work; I explore these topics via para-fiction, “mockuments”, “faux-rcehology,” archival and museological language.
Currently I am working on Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough): an ongoing a research project on representations of women in political speech from Turkey wherein quotes that refer to women are extracted from the public speeches of current Turkish politicians and re-presented in archeological forms that have historically celebrated male glory.
In 2014, the collection of quotes were formed into 10 writing stones, Monument I, visually drawing from Orkhon Inscriptions: bilingually inscribed Turkic artifacts erected to glorify 8th Century Göktürk Princes.
In 2016, the text was formed into a concrete frieze, Monument II, inspired by Assyrian Reliefs that eulogize kings who once sat in the now ancient palaces of Nineveh by rendering them as lion hunters.
The 2018 iterations, Monument III , IV and V take the form of obelisks comparable to the one of Pharaoh Thutmose III transported to and re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. From the Washington Monument in D.C. to the Trajan's Column in Rome, phallic monuments have been built and displaced throughout history as markers of power/conquest.
The final iteration, Monument VI, will be fabricated into an altar/temple form inspired by the Altar of Zeus, extracted in whole from Bergama in Ottoman Empire and transported to Berlin for display in Pergamon Museum.
Antithetical to the ancient and archaeological visual language employed in these works, the methodology, the typography and the materials all relate to modern processes such as gentrification and mass printing. This visual oxymoron yields contemporary historical objects, paralleling the antiquated conceptualizations of womanhood in modern day patriarchies.
The quotes read on these Monuments read:
“Türk hanımları evinin süsüdür...”
(“Turkish lady is the ornament of her house…”)
“Ben zaten kadın erkek eşitliğine inanmıyorum...Kadınlar ve erkekler farklıdır, birbirinin mütemmimidir”.
(“I don’t believe in the equality of men and women... Men and women are different. They are each other’s complementary.”)
And so, in 2018 the body of work has bifurcated to house a non-equal but complementary counterpart to the Monuments: a set of golden mouth Ornaments that cage the lips of its wearer in motifs from tezhip - an Ottoman Illumination style. A parallel is drawn between the relationship of tezhip and text, and that of “Woman” and “Man” for as Turkish Woman ornaments the house of her man, tezhip ornaments the house of the word, the page. Delicate, seductive, valuable in material and silencing, these beautiful gags confirm women’s exclusion from the linguistic realm, marginalization and ornamentalization within history.
Ornaments start out as traditional 2-D tezhip drawings, which are then digitized, 3-D modeled, 3-D printed, cast in bronze by lost-wax casting and finally finished by hand. The back-and-forth between contemporary and ancient fabrication methods is testament to paradoxical identities assigned to women in today's society.