Puppet behind the curtain, Puppet behind the window

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Puppet behind the curtain, Puppet behind the window, 2012

Four editions are in private and public collections: including The Arter – Space for Art, an initiative of The Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey, and the Art and Video Insight Foundation Collection, Bologna, Italy.

Solo exhibition: ‘Islamic Arts Festival’, Sharjah Art Museum-Eastern Section, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2014

Group exhibition: ‘Rewind Pause, Fast Forward: Mirrors on Iran,’ Pi Artworks, Istanbul, Turkey, 2012

Group exhibition: ‘mise–en–scène,’ Etemad Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2012

Group screening: ‘Ruskin Shorts,’ Phoenix Cinema, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2012 

Two channel video installation (duration of each video: 00:8:18 loop) 

Selected press voices:

Todays Zaman, ‘Life in Iran Under Spotlight, Contemporary Video Art Exhibition’, Rumeysa Kiger, 23 Agust, 2012, p. 13. 

Cumhuriyet, ‘Umutla Kaygi Arasinda’, Meltem Yilmaz, 2 Temmyz 2012, p. 6. 

Hurriyet Daily News, ‘Iranian Show Criticizes Key political Problems’, 18 July 2013, pp. 8-9.

AMA, Art Media Agency, AMA newsletter 60, ‘Rewind, Pause, Fast Forward Mirrors on Iran’ at Pi Artworks, 13 July 2012, p. 20. 

ICE Magazine, ‘Iran’dan kisa hikayeler, Short Stories from Iran’, Tugba Essen, pp. 86-87.

Art Unlimited, ‘Parmaklikarin Arkasina Bir Medeniyet’, Firat Demir, pp. 123-124.

Time Out Istanbul, ‘Rewind, Pause, Fast Forward Mirrors on Iran, 31 July 2012.

The Guide Istanbul, ‘Rewind, Pause, Fast Forward Mirrors on Iran’, 29 Jun 2012. 

Time Out Dubai, ‘First Impressions’, Jenny Hewett, 11 July, 20012, p. 21.

The video is a new reading of Sadegh Hedayat’s short story: ‘Puppet behind the curtain’. In Hedayat’s short story the main character (a young man) while studying abroad falls in love with a mannequin (a puppet) in a shop-window. The latter has all the qualities the young man was looking for: a perfect woman, who is calm and at the same time interesting, with a perfect smile and tilting head. For him this mannequin ‘is not a statute, it is a woman, or even better than a woman (…).’[1] Consequently, he buys the statue and brings it back to his homeland, paradoxically, inside a coffin. Back home to avoid any conflict with his fiancée, who had been waiting for him faithfully during this time, he hides the mannequin behind the curtain in his room and starts a very eccentric love/hate relationship with it. Unsurprisingly, the fiancée discovers the hidden woman behind the curtain. Jealous of the mannequin she tries to change herself and to become like the statue. She starts wearing the same clothes, the same make-up even carrying the same smile on her face. When the man returns home one night to pull aside the curtain, the statue walks towards him. In panic, he pulls out his gun and shoots, at what turns out to be his fiancée who dies ‘soaking in her blood.’[2]

Both these women are somehow perfect; one of them in the way that a model of Vogue magazine would be: she does not exist, she is not real, and she is too remote from a real woman. This faultless woman is always behind a barrier, whether it is a shop-window or a magazine page. She is displayed. The other woman, in this story, the fiancée, is perfect in the sense of being pure and innocent with an angel like face and a goddess like smile. Homa Katouzian describes this woman as the ‘embodiment of purity and perfection.’[3] Just as the front page model, she is hard to reach, being not real but the embodiment of an ideal woman. It is no coincidence that the first half of the story takes places in Paris, in the land of fashion and female flawlessness – women as vulnerable objects of beauty and perfection. The challenges for women in a small, village-like city in Iran during the 1930’s – where the second half of the story is set – are very different and at the same time very similar, with its highly conservative values and traditional bonds women were still treated as vulnerable objects – almost statues – of virginity and purity. 

Both these women in their perfection lack the simple fact of ‘being real’. In my opinion, it seems that Hedayat being highly aware of this binary situation, comments on how similar these female stereotypes are projected in the society, and by shifting their roles in the story (the mannequin goes behind the curtain, and the fiancé becomes like a mannequin), he peculiarly highlights this fact. For me, although the materiality of the veil and of the window is different, both are playing a very similar role. These two are the same thing; both are producing an unreal space for women who they represent. These representations of perfect women impose themselves on real women, and, eventually, consume them like cancer. 

[1] Sadegh Hedayat, ‘Aroosake Poshte Pardeh’, Sayeh Roshan, (Tehran, 1933), p. 51-61.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Homa Katouzian, Sadeq Hedayat: His Work and His Wondrous World, (Abingdon, 2008), p. 84