Self Portrait: Wrapping in a Character

Mehtap Baydu, 1972

Self Portrait: Wrapping in a Character, 2017

Born in Bingöl in 1972, Mehtap Baydu began her training at Erciyes University Faculty of Fine Arts between 1996 and 1997, and continued at the Department of Sculpture at the Hacettepe University Faculty of Fine Arts in Ankara between 1997 and 2000. The artist now continues to work in Berlin and Kassel while also pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Kassel, where she has been a student since 2005.

Baydu focuses on major themes such as individuals’ positions in society and identity politics. Gender and cultural codes of daily life shape the expressive language of her works. The installation “Self Portrait: Wrapping in a Character” contains a variety of different elements and materials, including a performance (captured on video) and traces of that performance in the gallery space. In the video, Baydu wears dresses she has collected from different women from various backgrounds and occupations (including her own mother) on top of one another as a means to gather or collect different identities on her own body. She asked the women to write short texts offering information about themselves—for instance "I was privileged as a young girl. While the other girls I played with were not allowed to wear pants, I could. I only had to wear a dress when we were visiting my grandma and my aunt"—and exhibits these notes on the wall.

The layers of dresses are virtually imprisoning her, and she slowly begins to get rid of them one by one, finally with one last move managing to take them all off. The inverted dresses are transformed into a voluminous, three-dimensional sculpture. Exhibited inside Plexiglas, this dress-sculpture represents both the artist and the women who owned and wore these dresses previously. The moment of turning upside down during the performance is captured in the form of a sculpture made of handcrafted paper exhibited inside a bell jar. The work is in large part about the many roles a woman may adopt during her lifetime, the different identities she can take on, and the impossibility of shedding them entirely.




Transparent handmade color paper, 2017 Woman’s dresses, plexi, 2012-2015, Video performance, 2012

Credit Line

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection

Acquired by the Women Artists Fund.

2017 Members of the Women Artists Fund

Mehveş Arıburnu, Işık Keçeci Aşur, Berrak Barut, Banu Çarmıklı, Oya Eczacıbaşı, Hatice Meriçten, Beril Miskavi, Meltem Demirören Oktay, Ebru Özdemir, Nesrin Sarıoğlu, Müge Sevil, Rana Erkan Tabanca, Türkan Özilhan Tacir