New book by Turkish artist gives a tribute to life of art
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Artist Nil Yalter has frequently chosen to work with political and cultural aspects, especially communities, immigrants unions and many more.Ranging from ethno-sociology to philosophy and from identities created in migration and sexual exploitation to everything in between, artist Nil Yalter’s works span a wide variety of styles and take in a number of topics. Now, all of the various strands of her work have been collated in a new book.
“I was always into art. I had always drawn since I was a little girl,” she said during a speech to promote her eponymous book, “Nil Yalter.”
Yalter, who opened her first exhibition in Mumbai when she was 18, has frequently chosen to work with political and cultural aspects, especially communities, immigrants unions and many more.
The artist also loves to read philosophy and sociology. “I always read for my own works, especially when I am creating or preparing for [new] work,” she said.
In some of her works, Yalter meets with immigrants through an association she founded, while in others “she focuses on the lives, living conditions and political exile of Turkish, Portuguese, Algerian and Chilean immigrants.”
Yalter follows the traces and the difficulties to be discovered. In one of her famous works, “Nomad Tent,” she revealed the ancient Turkish culture and rediscovered it. Originally exhibited at Projekt ’74 in Cologne, the work is often seen as a launch pad for some of her new discoveries.
“In 1973, Yalter began to use the portapak camera produced by Sony in 1965 as a medium in art production – around the same time as women artists in the U.S. and Europe,” said Derya Yücel, the editor of Yalter’s book.
Yalter’s work at the 13th Istanbul Biennial
“Yalter was the first among artists from Turkey to use video as an artistic medium, and she explains her interest in the camera for being ‘for the first time, a medium outside the fields of the male-genius artist myth like painting and sculpture,’” she said.
Yalter always focused on the social structures and the situation of women, migrants and workers. By focusing on these issues, she rediscovered the identities of her characters.
One of her renowned works, a 20-minute video performance from 1974 titled “Headless Woman or Belly Dance,” is proof of how Yalter used identity, metaphors and philosophy in her works. The woman in the video, who the audience cannot see, writes a piece from René Nelli’s “Érotique et Civilizations,” “la femme veritable est a la fois ‘convexe’ et ‘concave” (The real woman is both “convex” and “concave”) on her belly. Yalter’s approach to gender codes and women’s identity in society, which also touches on politics and sociology, is revealed with this work.
The artist’s work, “Paris Ville Lumière / Paris City of Light,” which she made together with Judy Blum, is on display at the 13th Istanbul Biennial.
“The work is a suitable one for the biennial,” said Yalter, noting that it focused on streets and society – a key feature of this year’s art extravaganza.
With the work, Yalter has chosen once again to emphasize how ethnographic methods are comprehended and reveal the hidden codes for “home,” “homeland” and “identity” while showing the audience how the city of Istanbul has become a cultural indicator.