Women Who Wear Wigs

1999


Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey, 2010

Women Who Wear Wigs is a four-screen video installation of interviews with four Turkish women who discuss the reasons they have had to wear wigs. One of Ataman’s subjects is a woman who was pursued as a terrorist, and was therefore forced to live part of her life in disguise. Another is a well-known journalist who wears a wig to conceal the hair loss that resulted from chemotherapy. The third, her identity protected by a completely black screen, is a devout Muslim student banned from wearing her traditional headscarf in the classroom because of Turkey’s secular laws. And the fourth is a transsexual prostitute and political activist who had her head shaved when arrested by the police.

While each of the individual stories is presented in a straightforward, documentary-like format, the viewer also has a role in creating meaning for the work. With the four screens lined up side by side, the viewer can move back and forth between the projections creating infinite viewing combinations. Through this movement between stories it becomes evident that while each of the women has a different and compelling personal situation, their experiences are connected by broader issues involving gender, identity, and oppression, all contained within the fifth frame, the frame that contains all of the four.