Ahmet Öğüt

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History Otherwise: Ottoman Socialist Hilmi and Ottoman Women’s Rights Defender Nuriye

dimensions: 3.50 m x 6.43m
Digital anamorphic painting
courtesy by the artist
Commissioned by Art Encounters Biennial
Supported by SAHA
View from Wei-Ling Contemporary, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

History Otherwise: Ottoman Socialist Hilmi and Ottoman Women’s Rights Defender Nuriye

Making the invisible visible is something that often happens in the work of Ahmet Ögüt For the Art Encounters Biennial 2019, he has made an illusionistic painting placed in the middle of a pedestrian street in the city center of Timisoara. It is the poorly visible Ottoman history of the city which is evoked here: the Turkish ruled the city 1551-1716 but there are very few visible traces in the urban landscape. Even less in terms of the population. Neither is it a heritage which is alive among the inhabitants. Having consulted local historians and visited the rare remnants from the Ottoman era, Ögüt has revived this history, emphasizing two aspects of which are “doubly” invisible, namely the Socialist heritage and the women’s liberation movement.

The painting shows, as if in an archeological dig in the ground, an Ottoman style living room decorated as the meeting room of the Ottoman Socialist Party (1910–1913), founded by Hüseyin Hilmi Bey (1885-1922). The founder is there himself, and next to him is Nuriye Ulviye Mevlan Civelek, one of the leading founder of the Ottoman Society for the Defence of Women’s Rights (1913). In late 19th-century Ottoman society a small circle of educated women started to become involved in public debates about women's rights. Several issues of a feminist Ottoman magazine were published, run and owned entirely by women, and printed in Istanbul between 1913 and 1921. This was the first magazine to publish a photograph of a Muslim woman without a veil and with a name, which makes it a significant source for the history of the feminist movement.

Maria Lind