Towards a Local Queer Aesthetics: Nilbar Güres’s Photography and Female Homoerotic Intimacy

By Duygu Ula
Submitted to Session P4919 (Contemporary Political Art of the Middle East, 2017 Annual Meeting
Art/Art Hist
Gender/Women's Studies; Queer/LGBT Studies; Turkish Studies;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Part of a larger work dealing with local queer aesthetics in Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, this paper focuses on visual and performance artist Nilbar Güre?’s work and analyzes the ways in which her photography deconstructs and re-imagines the various identity markers of the Turkish nation, and western discourses of homosexuality at once. By depicting seemingly conventional women in traditional settings (such as the living room, the mosque, the home) and imbuing them with a queer currency of desire, Güre? calls into question the stability of both national and cultural narratives regarding these women’s lives, and the stereotypes of an increasingly globalizing queer culture. Thus, her work speaks both to the socio-political constructs of the nation, and to the broader discourses of queer studies and theory at large. Güre?’s images, set either in the domestic sphere governed by cultural norms, or in public places such as the street or the mosque, where women interact with these highly regimented spaces in unexpected ways, offer a commentary on the way Turkish nation and culture police women’s bodies and their sexuality. In this paper, I offer close readings of a number of her works (Ayshe Loves Fatma, Worship, A Promise, Demand More! to name a few) and argue that the narratives created by the artist in these photographs form a visual archive of local queer aesthetics that positions itself in opposition to both national discourses on women’s sexuality, and western-centric discourses on homosexuality.