PDN Photo of the Day

Modern Anxieties, in Miniature

In Sinan Tuncay’s series “Public Intimacy,” part of his show, “I’m Sorry, Leyla,” that opens April 7 and runs until May 26 at United Photo Industries in Brooklyn, the Istanbul-born, New York-based artist depicts ceremonial, sometime allegorical rituals in a traditional Turkish wedding, in scenes constructed in the style of Turkish Miniature paintings. Made entirely from photographs that Tuncay found or took, the series echoes the flat, ariel view found in illuminated manuscripts and Medieval painting, where many perspectives exist at once and size is unconnected to distance. The dancer on the long banquet table in Illegitimate is no bigger than the bride who sits near the table’s head, and the table’s settings are visible as if it were standing on end, revealing all the many used plates and dishes of food. While the ceremonies Tuncay depicts can be archaic, the men and women who populate the images are strictly contemporary—the women wear stylish party clothes or modern head scarves (except in Bridal Bath, where they’re wrapped in what look like plaid towels), the men are in suits and ties.

Tuncay writes in an artist’s statement that the work “reflects marital obligation and its ceremonial order in the Turkish tradition,” with a particular emphasis on “the constant surveillance of virginity and inevitable examination of potency,” that the bride and groom are subject to. In Wedding Night, a circle of onlookers surrounds a bed on which the new bride sits, her head covered by a white veil. Her nervous groom stands at the edge of the frame, stark naked, looking uneasy about the task at hand. Tuncay provocatively replaces characters that might have been royal figures in equivalent 16th century miniatures with male family members, questioning contemporary family structures, and exchanging “imperial authority with patriarchal society,” writes Tuncay. “Juxtaposing private and public, this project seeks to explore paradoxical codes of social affirmation, that [have] evolved around fantasized female virginity and heteronormative images of male.”

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