° 1946, Ankara
lives in Istambul
Gülsün Karamustafa is a socially committed artist. She is strongly involved with her country, Turkey, her city, Istanbul, and the condition of women in an Islamic environment. Her work is about identity and its complexity. This holds for the Turkish identity as a whole, but especially for Istanbul, which is an enormous metropolis that is the opposite of a homogeneous culture, a total mishmash between East and West. Even Gülsün Karamustafa feels divided between two continents. As a woman, she also takes a firm stand against the fundamentalistic developments of recent years.|
Apart from that, she has also been an exile in her own country for some time. As an art student in the sixties she was politically active. The military regime brought her to court, put her in jail for a while and then refused to give her a passport for sixteen long years. Since 1986 she is allowed to travel again and she feels artistically free. However, she fears that the doors between her country and the world will some day be closed again.
The composition of her work contains two important features. Firstly, she makes objects and spatial installations, mostly with found materials: photo’s, kitschy eastern tapestry, textiles, blankets, clothing, elements from Islamic art, harem paintings… The second feature is video, of which she is increasingly discovering its potential to express things, namely to tell stories or to translate impressions of the aftermath of the military regime (Making of the Wall, 2003), the migration issue (Stairway, 2001), the male/female role patterns (Men Crying), the position of the modern versus the traditional woman (The Settler, 2003), just to name a few recent examples.
The video installation Tailor Made is based on footage of a very special fashion show in Istanbul. The models are singers and belly dancers from third-rate casino’s and cabarets. They seem eccentric, but in fact they represent three quarters of the entertainment industry in Istanbul. The show is organised by a fashion designer who designs original clothing for this type of performers.
But it is more than a fashion show. At the same time, it’s a testimonial and a way to point out the poor working conditions in casino’s and cabarets and to stand up for the social rights of the women who work there.
The soundtrack is the work of a well-known alternative music group from Istanbul, Baba Zula.