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Metamorphosis Chat – by Ferhat Özgür

28 april, 2012 11:14

In the 2010 “6th Berlin Biennale” I discovered the fantastic Turkish artist Ferhat Özgür. In this work ”Metamorphosis Chat” Özgür presents an everyday encounter between two women meeting over tea in a living room. Echoing material found in Turkish soap operas, the women discuss their everyday issues, family, grandchildren and friends. It is within this convivial space that the two women turn to their dress, with respective signifiers of religious and cultural difference, and slowly the staged moment shifts into a playful absorbing game of dress-up in which the two protagonists literally swap clothes. The simplicity of this exchange is fuelled by the humor shared between the women, their hearty friendliness, their openness in dealing with what might otherwise be an embarrassing situation, giggling at each other and themselves. The signifiers of dress address and exaggerate the polarization of secular vs. religion or East vs. West, while concurrently undermining issues of idealism and representation. A headscarf becomes a matter of ingrained habit rather than a religious affinity, providing heat and comfort, while no headscarf becomes culturally accepted for the profession of a teacher. This rationalizing of dress according to personal habit and decisions plays out between old friends and yet there still exists the ability for transformation. Their potential for exchange pokes fun at the fear and often moralizing debates on symbols with religious connotations while concurrently reminding one of the ability to put on another’s clothes or to walk in another’s shoes.

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