Catalan artist depicts daily life of Istanbul women
Catalan writer and researcher Noemi Duran Salvado decided to leave her homeland and depart to Latin America. She first arrived in El Salvador, then Brazil, Argentina, and, at last, Colombia, where she lived for more than three years and started what she calls a deep work of healing as a woman.
“I love being able to understand my status of women from different cultures,” she told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
In Latin America, where she was amazed for its ancestral cultures and bond with spirituality, she developed a first work of deep healing, which ended with the making of the book, “Letters of the Awake Woman” that she said, "talks precisely about the importance of looking through your roots, your ancestors, your generational issues, in order to heal and rewrite you back."
But after looking from the inside and going through “all those legacies that we have materialized” for years, she felt the question now was heading to a different path: “How aware are we, women, of our connection with desire itself, with pleasure."
She was convinced that, once women get to heal, they would be free to enjoy life and she was ready to take another step. She wanted to find out about femininity in the Middle East.
"Then my question is expanded and I say, 'well, and what about women in Middle East cultures? How do these cultures influence their status of women?' That is why I chose Istanbul, as a destination that, in my opinion, is a prudent door into the eastern world," explained Duran Salvado. And this is how “The born of the blissful” is created, an artistic project can be seen in the Civic Center of the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona until Dec. 16.
She arrived in Istanbul where she felt half comfortable, half foreigner, with all the tools she required. As an audiovisual communicator, she took with her a photographic camera, with the aim of taking portraits of women.
As a writer, she had her booklet at her hand, ready to take note of all the personal impressions. And as a doctor in art and education, who graduated from the University of Barcelona, she was endowed with an open and objective perspective with which she would make a series of interviews to delve into the status of women in Turkey.
Duran Salvado wanted to “inhabit space.” She did not want to be “a very distant foreigner, who looks at the other and points to it,” She wanted to camouflage herself.
She went to a hairdresser, for example, and the woman cutting her hair told her that she wanted to tell her story. She discovered that hairdressing was a place of freedom where women can be uncovered both physically and symbolically.
And so, little by little, one woman led her to another. Thus, she got to know Fatma, Gizem, Leyla, Firuza and Grace, among others. They met her, told her their story in English, although they spoke among themselves in Turkish, trying to find the right word in the other language, and in the end, they proposed how they wanted to be photographed.
Some of them appear taking photos of themselves, or to the Bosporus; looking at the sea; among nature; drinking a coffee or even smoking.
Each photo appears in a postcard, and each postcard is composed of a photography in the front and texts written by Duran Salvado in the back. Next to it, there are some blank lines, inviting those who assist to write something. The postcards, which are displayed at the typical tour desk, are also projected in the lounge.
It is a project with several voices, and in that sense, the format of the postcards was ideal. “For me, something very important in literature is that it circulates, it generates conversation. So the format of the postcard was an invite for things to happen,” said Duran Salvado.
"The birth of the blissful,” in Spanish El nacimiento de las di(ch)osas), includes the word goddess (diosa) and the word happy (dichosa), “as long as we are aware of the power that lives in us,” says Duran Salvado.
She met very powerful women, who despite being in complex situations, where sometimes they did not feel appreciated, visible or recognized, found ways to persist. The mere fact that "16 women wanted to give testimony is already a gesture of courage,” adds Duran Salvado. “They arrived from work, we met at night, tired, but they came and told me stories, very grateful to be heard."
"In every single interview, I shed tears because you do not know the story of strength. They spoke with a clarity, a consciousness. I mean, it is impressive the clarity they have of what is at stake and how they can rebuild. That is an important point of my project, which is proactive, that not only criticizes but shows that there are ways to get ahead," says the writer.
The project is still under construction, as she looks forward to analyzing it in the future along with a Turkish political scientist, the context behind these interviews, as well as incorporate the texts that the assistants wrote in the postcards during the exhibit and the conference.
Many of them have not only written for the postcards but, actually, they have taken them away.
Of the 53 postcards, there are only eight left, something that,
despite the inconvenience it may generate, as she must replace them for future activities, this has been described by the promoters of the exhibition as a success factor: “It shows that the project has been well received.”
The postcards were an invitation for things to happen, and these actually happened “in an ephemeral art plan that dies of success,” as Duran Salvado describes it.