Sinan Tuncay

Sinan Tuncay

Turkey, born in 1986

Public Intimacy is a series of five photographic tableaux directly inspired by the pictorial style of the miniatures illustrating the great manuscripts of the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth-century. Aping key components in their composition, the Turkish artist here replaces meticulous painting with photography, addressing this time-honoured illustrative tradition from a contemporary angle. The pictures are built up from a collage of a hundred or so images, some taken by the artist, some from extraneous sources. All the characters consist in minor variations on two figures; a man and a woman, whose faces, photographed separately, are joined to several bodies in different postures, each ostensibly embodying an “Oriental” stereotype. Setting aside the essential theme of the original miniatures — ceremonial life under the sultans —, Tuncay reconfigures their pictorial codes to depict the ordinary but symbolic phases of Turkish life, such as marriage.

The series opens with the bride being bathed, a tradition that demands the future wife be washed in the presence of her in-laws. Concluding with the wedding night, culturally the bath functions as a celebration of the loss of virginity. By juxtaposing private and public life, this project thus aims to explore the paradoxical codes that underlie social self-presentation in modern Turkey, a country that remains patriarchal and fixated by fantasies of female virginity and the heteronormative male image.


SVA — School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, United States, 2011 – 2013
SU — Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2005 – 2010



Sinan Tuncay, Bridal Bath; Illegitimate; Prayer; Votive and Wedding Night, from the series Public Intimacy, 2015
Inkjet prints
80 x 56 cm
© Sinan Tuncay

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