Fitne (Intrigue)
  • Fitne (Intrigue)

    80 framed photographs
    18 x 21 cm.
    2003

    As Zehra Arat expressed in her book Deconstructing Images of the Turkish Woman, when Turkey began the process of modernization, those in power feared the influence of immoral western behavior. Attempting to instill correct values, early 20th century Turkish writers included many examples of moral wives and mothers who kept orderly and clean homes. In actually, an organized home began to be equated with a moral life. I named this work “Fitne” because this word contains within it undercurrents of rebellious, sly, and naughty behavior. Since in some instances, this term has been used to describe the natural state of female sexuality and the difficulties encountered when society attempts to control impulses essentially destructive to maintaining the status quo, I do not find the English translation, intrigue, to be entirely sufficient.

    Even though I grew up in another culture, I found nothing foreign about my mother-in-laws attempts to teach me techniques of household hygiene and methods of organizing closets. Like all women of my generation regardless of nationality, I matured in a patriarchic society and learned from my mother and grandmother that moral women keep clean houses.

    When I asked female friends and relatives to allow me to photograph the inside of their closets, I was not surprised by their first response, “Oh, I must clean them first.” After giving reassurance that the names of the owners would be kept secret, I was able to make spontaneous snapshots. As I entered their private spaces to document, I felt very mischievous and as if I was stepping over a prohibited boundary. For exhibition, I enclosed these small photographs in white closet-like frames along with four small images of myself trying to escape.