Layers of scars run up and down the arm of the young girl featured in the photograph Hard to Die by Selda Asal (b. 1960). When I first saw this photograph it was painfully striking to me as I realized the significance of those scars. Reacting against societal pressures, this girl used her own body to vent her feelings of oppression. The title of the work might seem unusual as it suggests the difficulty of dying. Yet, upon further reflection the title of this work takes on new, tragic meaning as this young girl clearly found it even harder to live then to die.
The issue of conformity for young girls is further illustrated in Selda Asal’s photograph Everything Is Okay. This work features a topical view of a young girl holding a wedding cake figurine. The artist chose an angle above the girl to create a sense of confinement. The young girl’s head is bent, suggesting defeat, as she remains powerless, accepting societal expectations represented by the bride and groom doll.
Come see this work and others by Asal in the exhibition A Dream…but not Yours: Contemporary Art From Turkey at NMWA opening February 12th.
About the Author- Breezy Diether is currently an education intern at NMWA.