Photo Gallery The Art of Sükran Moral

Sükran Moral is one of Turkey's most controversial female contemporary artists. Here, SPIEGEL ONLINE presents a sampling of her work.
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The work that launched Moral onto the international art stage was a 1997 film entitled "Bordello." In it, Moral stands in a brothel dressed as a prostitute. "When I was a girl," Moral recounts, "they always threatened me that if I didn't study and work hard, I would end up in a place like this. I was terrified of brothels. I wanted to come see this place that was the cause of so much fear."

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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Still, Moral says, people didn't realize what she was doing. "They said that I went to where I really worked to make my piece, that I really was a whore," she says. "This was a terrible blow -- to me, to my reputation and to my family."

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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That same year, Moral sparked controversy by sneaking into a male bathhouse in Istabul. The work "Hamam" had to do with a woman invading a space usually reserved for men. "What's scandalous here is not the nudity," she says. "What's scandalous was the fact that here I was, an intellectual woman, who proposes doing something scandalous. If I had really been a whore, it would have been no big deal. Just being a female avant-garde artist is scandalous."

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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Her piece "Family Night" shows an elegantly set table with wine glasses, fine china, silver and flowers. Sitting at the end of the table is a skeleton wearing a long, black wig, its mouth open in what Moral describes as a "Munch-like scream." Young girls dressed in white dance innocently around the table. Among the fine tableware, however, lies a hammer, several bullets, a rubber snake, a butcher's knife and a pistol. "I collected articles from Turkish newspapers of the horrible, unimaginable ways in which women had been murdered," Moral says.

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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As part of the performance, a number of young girls dressed in white bridal dresses with veiled tiaras dance innocently and smilingly around the table. "You have these angelic girls dancing around the table," Moral explains. "They don't know this is what they'll end up like."

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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In her 2009 performance piece "Love and Violence," Moral dresses all in black with a black hijab. Seated at a desk is a life-size doll wearing a flora-patterned dressed, meant to be the character's daughter. Moral picks the doll up and lifts her skirt before slitting off her clitoris with a razor blade. She then dresses the girl in black, like herself, and puts a white wedding veil on her head. Then she carries the girl to a wall on which there is a life-size photograph of the 40-year-old Afghan man made famous in a 2007 picture of him sitting next to his frightened-looking 11-year-old bride. After the wedding, the woman picks up a black rubber jump rope, with which she symbolically whips the girl to death before turning the whip on herself. "We women are guilty, too," Moral says.

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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Moral's 2004 work "Apocalypse" has a photograph of a woman pregnant with twins in a crucified position in front of 28 female bodies -- including those of four children and four pregnant women -- wrapped in white sheets. "This is God as woman," Moral says. "And this is God saying: 'I give you life, and you just take it away.'"

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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In her 1996 work "Speculum," Moral has half of a naked woman lying on a gynaecological examination table. A monitor between the sculpture's legs plays scenes from other performance pieces, including ones in a Turkish bathhouse, a brothel, a women's mental hospital and a place where the dead are washed.

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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In her 2003 video piece "Despair," Moral films a boat full of would-be immigrants adrift at sea. "These are the news slaves of the industrial world," Moral says. "Europe's industry needs them." Moral superimposes birds on the figures, which are meant to symbolize nostalgia for distant places.

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Foto: Sukran Moral
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In a 2007 performance piece entitled "Peace...Fucking Fairytale!," Moral shatters a glass on which lipstick prints have been used to spell out the Italian word for "peace."

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Foto: Sukran Moral