2014 - Talismanic Shirt of Love




Be Mine Exhibition. Greenleaf Art Center, Chicago, IL. Curated by Niki Nolin, Pate Conaway, and Judith Hladik-Voss.




Talismanic Shirt for Love: Be Mine

Talismanic shirts were often used by members of the Ottoman imperial court to protect them in battle, heal them in illness, and make wishes come true. These shirts, regularly made out of cotton or silk paper, were worn underneath battle outfits or daily clothing worn at court. The shirts were filled with inscriptive texts and images. The texts contained verses from the Qur'an, names of holy people, magical formulas, encrypted text, and numerological charms. The images were either abstract forms with holy connotations (star of David, crescent moon, etc.) or representational figures (people, trees, etc.) referring to the reason the shirt was made. Please see enclosed examples marked “talismanic shirt example,” and “talismanic shirt detail.”

For Be Mine exhibition, I made a paper shirt that finds its inspiration in these old talismanic shirts. This shirt, presented on a clothes hanger, hang on a wall, implies that it is ready to be worn for courting love. But, it will also implies that the expression of love in contemporary culture has become mostly commercialized, and the magic has been reduced to the surplus it generates.

The shirt is inscribed with various text, images, popular culture icons that refer to Valentines day and the industry of love – such as cupids, hearts, roses, candy, chocolates, famous love phrases, love song lyrics, love prayers, love related text written in binary code, and more.