Ece Akkas

Artist Statement

These days there are  various types of sexist acts against women on the news from all over the world. The stories are changing from location to location and from culture to culture. I was born and raised in Turkey, a country located in the Middle East. My hometown was Istanbul which has land in both Europe and Asia. Because of my country's location on the world map and my cities diverse population and culture, I have experienced and observed many different cultural traditions. The ideas and beliefs of other regions were a part of my daily life. I make art to protest some of adopted norms.

In my work, I use various types of colors to represent the trades of traditional Turkish art, to symbolize where these traditions come from. I specifically make art about 5 significant traditions that are still being practiced today. Even though with time these beliefs transformed and modernized, I strongly protest any kind of tradition that objectifies and humiliates women. Marking women paint themselves with bright colored henna and giving money to their dads or putting gold in their clothing to bribe the families were really popular practices long before the Turks migrated to Asia Minor (Anatolia). When the Turks came to the Mediterranean coast and met Arabic culture from the East the word Haram was introduced to my people.  The core of the word comes from Arabic, and it was a word used for ownership over an object or the rights of an individual. Nowadays there is a group of people that use this word for unmarried women. The rules of this tradition are simple. A man's mother, sisters, and sisters in law are not haram for him, it is not a sin for him to look at other women who are not in these categories, but it's not the same way for women.

There is a lot of sexist ideas behind these traditions that are  unseen because of the modern ways they are practiced. I want to bring awareness to the ideas behind these beliefs to the people who don't know and who practice them today without having the knowledge about the sexism at the core of these traditions.