A Selection from the Collection
Kutluğ Ataman, 1961 Women Who Wear Wigs, 1999

Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation Collection /
Long Term Loan



Born in 1961 in İstanbul, Turkey Ataman received both a bachelors and a graduate degree in film from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He lives and works in London, Islamabad and Istanbul.

The video "Women Who Wear Wigs" shows four different women who all use wigs to hide and transform their repressed identities in Turkey in the 1990s. While the videos in this four-screen installation individually reflect the reasons why these women wear wigs, the larger picture that emerges sets forth a social portrait regarding the problem of identity in Turkey’s recent history. The first woman in Ataman’s work is Melek Ulagay, who in the 1970s was forced to live in hiding due to her political activities and therefore spent years of her life in disguise. The woman we see on the second screen, Nevval Sevindi, wears a wig to conceal the hair loss that resulted from chemotherapy and to regain her femininity. The third person, who preferred to hide her identity and talks from behind a black screen, is a university student who wears a wig to hide her headscarf which she is not allowed to wear at school due to the headscarf ban in Turkish universities. And the fourth woman is Demet Demir, an activist from the transsexual and transvestite community, who had their hair cut by the police to prevent them from doing prostitution during the transvestite ban in Beyoğlu in the early 1990s.