Kaya Genç

  • Nejat Sati

    Since his debut exhibition at Istanbul’s Apartment Project a decade ago, Nejat Sati has become a rarity in Turkey’s installation- and video-dominated art world, thanks to his devotion to canvas and paint. Out of all the forty-two works in his earlier shows—“Hypoglottis,” 2010, and “State of Mind,” 2012—only two were mixed media: Tongue, 2010, a sculpture made from colorful pills, and Totem, 2012, an installation comprising one hundred paint cans lined up end to end to form what looked like a pipe. Acrylic abstractions with a metallic sheen made up the bulk of his early shows. Energetic in their

  • Zeyno Pekünlü

    In a show at New York’s SculptureCenter this past winter, the midcareer Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu exhibited a 128-hour-long film amassing twelve years of her digital life as stored on numerous cameras, phones, computers, and hard drives. This documentary approach to tackling the everyday amid Turkey’s turbulent trajectory intersects with the performative aesthetics of Zeyno Pekünlü, a Turkish artist a decade younger than Cennetoğlu. Pekünlü’s latest Istanbul exhibition also centered on a large video canvas: the nine-hour İş (Work; all works 2019), which portrays her daily routine.

    A gray

  • picks May 10, 2019

    Arda Asena and Mia Dudek

    The Greek myth of Marsyas concerns a flute-playing Dionysian satyr’s challenge to Apollo in a music competition, his defeat, and his incommensurate punishment: Apollo nailed Marsyas to a pine tree and flayed him alive. Countless artists, from Titian to Anish Kapoor, have interpreted the story. Mia Dudek commemorates the mythological liberty symbol with “Marsyas,” 2018–19, a photography series of close-up body parts. Bruises, limbs, muscles, veins, and wounds appear in eroticized reincarnations, as in Casing III, 2017, or on screen prints that resemble body CT scans (Marsyas III and Marsyas VI,

  • TOUCHING FEELING

    A COMMEMORATIVE STONE on an Istanbul sidewalk in Osmanbey startles the unsuspecting pedestrian: HRANT DINK WAS KILLED HERE. The Turkish-Armenian founding editor of the bilingual newspaper Agos was assassinated on January 19, 2007, two years after a court in Istanbul convicted him of “denigrating Turkishness” in an article. Three steps from the shrine stands the building where the Armenian weekly was edited. Fact-checking stories, pondering editorials, poring over galleys, and working deep into the night, Dink’s news team made the Agos headquarters their home.

    Last year, the directors of the Hrant

  • “Positive Space”

    HIV emerged in Turkey in the 1980s, and people infected with it were soon stigmatized by Turkish politicians and newspapers alike. The aids epidemic unsettled boundaries between public and private and pushed Turks to openly discuss sexuality. HIV remains a public health challenge (the number of Turks living with HIV increased from 672 in 2011 to 2,844 in 2017), but until recently, Turkish artists had remained tight-lipped about the disease.

    In 2009, nearly twenty-five years after AIDS first turned up in Turkey, Leylâ Gediz painted Cocoon, a portrait of a friend who had just been diagnosed with

  • picks February 04, 2019

    Soufiane Ababri

    In Turkey’s oil wrestlers, Soufiane Ababri finds the focus for an exhibition tackling Western representations of the Orient. In the Moroccan-born artist’s “Bedwork Series,” all works 2018, oil-slathered Turkish men attempt to overthrow one another, less agents of domination than floral figures defying the homoeroticizing gaze. Pink-cheeked men with fluid gender identities, the pehlivans nourish and pour olive oil on each other as Ababri’s affectionate, colored pencil depictions turn masculinity on its head; the softhearted male bodies derive their power from acts of kindness, not the roughness

  • picks December 03, 2018

    Çağrı Saray

    Since the mid 2000s, Çağrı Saray has been obsessed with Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), the 1987 film by Wim Wenders. Damiel and Cassiel, the film's angel protagonists who watch and eavesdrop on the Wall-divided city from above, flutter around Saray's meditative exhibition. In the video installation Homage to Peter Handke, 2018, Saray reshoots the opening scene, his hand translating the first lines of Handke's script into Turkish. In That night , 2018, he plasters a set of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds posters on the gallery wall, reenacting a key moment in the film, when Damiel meets

  • picks October 12, 2018

    Fatma Bucak

    In 2015, Fatma Bucak collaborated with a cameraman on a visit to a ranch in Texas where dozens of bodies of Mexican migrants are found every summer, returning home with video footage and ideas for a sculpture. The result, the exhibition “A World of Ten Thousand Things,” offers a characteristically perceptive look at an urgent issue.

    A sentiment lurking at the edge of my conscious, 2018, is a sweeping seven-channel video installation that portrays Mexican migrants in two distinct landscapes along the Mexico-US border. One landscape features a river with reeds and a view of the horizon; the second,

  • picks September 30, 2018

    Sefer Memişoğlu

    In Sefer Memişoğlu’s “The Eye’s Ray,” mystical video installations, libidinous sculptures, and five unsettling drawings surrender symbols of masculinity to the female gaze. The Laugh of the Medusa, 2017, a sculpture made with silicone and human hair, involves a gorgon-like head covered not with snakes but with a dozen circumcised and uncircumcised penises. Her lethal stare seems to be directed at Glorious Moment, 2014, a video installed at the opposite end of the gallery, in which the phallic silhouette of a match is backdropped by waves beating against a shore at sunset.

    MacGuffin, 2018, evokes

  • picks August 29, 2018

    Lara Ögel

    There is much dust in “Mundessa,” Lara Ögel’s gripping new exhibition, where it constitutes both the theme and the material of works (the title refers to swept-up dust in the Adriatic Italian dialect). Ögel’s previous solo show, “Imtidad,” dealt with the public history of a Greek primary school in Istanbul and presented five dust-covered windows taken from the school depot. “Mundessa”’s focus is the domestic. The installation All Seeds, 2018, features a sculpture made of lace and an elastic band, resembling a skirt of the kind commonly used to protect beds from dust. But the band circles a void

  • picks May 11, 2018

    Aydan Murtezaoğlu and Bülent Şangar

    A drawing of an extended queue welcomes visitors to an alluring survey of Aydan Murtezaoğlu and Bülent Şangar, two pioneering figures of Turkish contemporary art who came to the fore in the 1990s. On the tail end of the succession in Unemployed Employees-I found you a new job!, 2006–18, men do push-ups, carry heavy materials, balance on ladders: tests for employment in the state or the private sector. The collaborative work also includes a performance in which recent university graduates fold T-shirts on an assembly line while chatting about their precarity. The three floors that host these

  • picks April 13, 2018

    Ali Mahmut Demirel

    Specters of bygone times haunt Ali Mahmut Demirel’s work, which explores themes of decay and desolation. The individual parts of his video series “Post-Apocalyptic Utopias,” 2015–18, make up the majority of the pieces in this exhibition. In The Pier, 2015, the camera lingers on remnants of Scheveningen Pier, a leisure facility near The Hague built in 1959, after Nazis demolished the original pier for fear of an Allied invasion. A casino and restaurant were its main attractions, but the pier went bankrupt in 2013. Demirel filmed its state of decline two years later: dead bugs on gray surfaces,