Visual artist based in London. She is represented by the Kalfayan Gallery in Athens and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Westminster
The Harem from Orientalism to Popular Culture: Post-Ottoman Women’s Fashion
This audio-visual presentation is based on ‘The Harem’, a work-in-progress comprising of found images, postcards, videos and slide projections. Contrary to what the title might suggest, the project does not focus on the histories of the Ottoman Harem but the development of women’s fashion in the former Ottoman Empire, charting the transformation from the traditional dress (folk costumes) into the modern woman. Through an investigation of visual documents – a collection of archival postcards (from the turn of the 20th century) depicting women in their national dresses and popular films from the ‘60s (focussing on dance scenes) – the development of fashion follows the breakdown of the former Ottoman Empire into nation states. The project brings to the forefront the complexities of location and belonging, but most importantly unearths a series of parallels in visual culture that ultimately question the role of female emancipation and the legacies of modernity.
In particular, from the still proud woman to the dancing beauty, the presentation will explore the development of visual representation, and:
• the role of the studio photographer (in many cases in Cairo, Istanbul and Thessaloniki they were of Armenian origin)
• the function of the national dress (highlighting particular perceptions of national identity)
• the function of the colonial gaze (representing the woman as the ‘exotic’ other)
• the transformation into the modern woman with a common (or homogenised) dress code
This work has sprung out from my own intricate subjective position and is embedded in cultural, political and gender complexities.