Kaya Genç

  • Gökçen Cabadan, Hiddenface, 2020, oil on canvas, 27 1⁄2 × 19 5⁄8".

    Gökçen Cabadan

    A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium, forty-year-old Gökçen Cabadan is the most skillful Turkish painter of his generation. Since his solo debut in 2008, Cabadan has often considered uncanny objects—dressed mannequins in a shopwindow, part of a skeleton inside a fountain, a man playing with a set of Russian dolls—in his oil paintings and pastels. Working from images found in magazines or online ads and using bright colors, passages of pure abstraction, and various types of estrangement effect, Cabadan presents us with figures who seek shelter and privacy even as they

  • Extrastruggle, Bureau for Registering the Sufferings Caused by Former Governments, 2021, laser-cut iron, 12 1⁄4 × 44 7⁄8 × 1".

    Extrastruggle

    Extrastruggle, a fictional graphic-design firm established by Memed Erdener, has mocked Turkish officialdom since 1997, its provocations taking the form of assemblages, collages, sculptures, stamps, stencils, and Photoshopped pen-and-ink works on paper. Using black humor to tackle the state’s assaults on Kurdish dissidents, LGBTQI activists, and Islamic feminists, among others, the Istanbul-based initiative has attracted animosity: In 2009, nationalists sent the artist threatening emails and hacked the website extrastruggle.com. In 2011, Extrastruggle created a wooden sculpture of the mausoleum

  • *View of Barış Doğrusöz’s Cross-Pollination, 2020.
    interviews March 12, 2021

    Barış Doğrusöz

    The Turkish video artist Barış Doğrusöz, who operates at the junction of architecture and history, is currently showing work from his cycle “The Locus of Power” in an exhibition of the same title running at Istanbul’s SALT Galata until March 28. Two videos explore the archaeological site of Dura-Europos, a former city located in modern-day Syria that was a center of linguistic and religious multiculturalism for half a millennium. A third considers “the observability of archaeological sites” using footage shot by the Corona spy satellite, employed by the United States between 1959 and 1972 to

  • Zehra Doğan, Hey soldier; you can’t make strip search. I’m already naked, 2018, ballpoint pen and hair on underwear, two parts, 8 3/4 × 28 3/8" and 10 1/4 × 11 3/4".

    Zehra Doğan

    Zehra Doğan’s work chronicles, defies, and transforms the twenty-seven months she spent in Turkish prisons. Doğan was a twenty-seven-year-old reporter—and founder of JINHA, a feminist news agency—when, in 2016, she made a digital-tablet drawing based on a news photograph of Turkish soldiers posing with machine guns. In the background, it shows Nusaybin, a town caught in the crossfire between Kurdish militants and Turkish soldiers and reduced to rubble. As crimson Turkish flags flutter ominously over its ruins, shadowy security personnel seem to emerge from vehicles resembling scorpions in the

  • İz Öztat, Confused Examination Under Given Circumstances, 2020, HD video, color, sound, 13 minutes 17 seconds.
    picks February 23, 2021

    “Crystal Clear”

    For “Crystal Clear”—a group show inspired by philosophers Bruno Latour and Byung-Chul Han’s writings on the “climatic regime” and the false ideals of transparency, respectively—Elena Sorokina, curating from Paris, has partitioned the gallery with textile works, among them Paul Maheke’s The River Asked for a Kiss (To Pateh Sabally), 2017, a memorial to a Gambian refugee who drowned in Venice while onlookers filmed his death. The four digitally printed, diaphanous curtains recreate Sabally’s watery grave, and evoke the entirety of Suicide’s Note, the 1925 poem by Langston Hughes: “The calm, / Cool

  • Sarkis, Red stained glass series No:1, 1/2+1 ap, 2020, glass, lead, steel, LED, 19 3/8 × 28 1/2 × 4". From “Red stained glass series,” 2020.

    Sarkis

    In 1928 German art historian Aby Warburg reflected on how humanity’s “treasure of suffering” becomes a human possession. Warburg’s term—in German, Leidschatz—crystallizes the aesthetics of Sarkis, a pioneer of contemporary art in Turkey. Sarkis’s grandparents had settled in Istanbul in 1915 after the horrors of the Armenian Genocide led them to flee Eastern Anatolia. His father was a butcher, and one day, while helping him work, Sarkis noticed a reproduction of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, 1893, on the paper used to wrap a piece of meat; his immediate feeling of identification with the howling

  • Mehmet Sinan Kuran, Le pain quotidien (Daily Bread), 2020, ink on found photograph, 14 3/8 × 10 3/8".

    Mehmet Sinan Kuran

    Mehmet Sinan Kuran received no formal art education. He worked as a bootlegger in the 1980s, when he was in his twenties, and, identifying with Charles Bukowski, filled notebooks with grim sketches of the denizens of Istanbul’s bohemian quarters. “Painting is a mode of writing for me,” he said in 2013. That year at Istanbul’s Çağla Cabaoğlu Gallery, for his first solo show, Kuran displayed notebooks that abounded with miniature pen-and-ink drawings in the style of Edward Gorey. They featured disembodied limbs and Surrealist props—wandering eyes, animals in colorful costumes—as well as quotations

  • Preparatory sketch for Stéphanie Saadé’s A Discreet Intruder, 2020 (digital rendering).
    interviews September 14, 2020

    Stéphanie Saadé

    Stéphanie Saadé often traces her nomadic upbringing in her installations—spare and evocative meditations on memory, movement, and space. Like that of her “home” city of Beirut, Saadé’s past year in the Lebanese capital has been turbulent: The birth of her first child was closely followed by the explosion last month at the city’s waterfront that left 181 people dead and an estimated 300,000 homeless. Around the time of the blast, Saadé was developing a project for “A Few In Many Places,” a collaboration between artists and local shop owners from Montréal, Philadelphia, Berlin, Istanbul, and the

  • Cevdet Erek, Bergama Stereotip (Pergamon Stereotype), 2019–20, architectural construction with thirteen-channel sound, speakers, amplifiers, computer, audio interface, wood, metal, molton curtain. Installation view. Photo: flufoto.

    Cevdet Erek

    Architectural interventions and sonic experiments are components in the work of Cevdet Erek, an Istanbul-based artist and drummer with the rock band Nekropsi. For Room of Rhythms, 2010–12, at Documenta 13 in 2012, Erek installed a monolithic tower of black speakers in the upper floor of Kassel’s C&A department store, transforming the vacant space with overlapping beats and the speakers’ gridlike sculptural presence. His SSS, Shore Scene Soundtrack, 2012, winner of that year’s Nam June Paik Award, comprised a synthetic carpet and an instruction booklet that explained how to caress its surface to

  • View of “Human, how strange, so vulgar, such a masterpiece and yet so primitive.”
    picks June 18, 2020

    Berkay Tuncay

    Istanbul-based artist Berkay Tuncay studied archeological conservation as an undergraduate and wrote a dissertation on Net art during graduate school. Fitting, then, that he would go on to deploy a variety of mediums to critique and historicize the future relics of today’s internet culture—ASMR videos, Facebook memes, meditation apps. Adam Curtis and Martin Parr inspired the anthropological aesthetics of his works, which include iPad-sized clay tablets depicting Kanye West’s tweets in Sumerian cuneiform font, visual poems rendered as captchas, and a sheet of Plexiglas that lists the record views

  • Aslı Çavuşoğlu and Özer Yalçınkaya, ANNEX (detail), 2020, neon, dimensions variable.

    Aslı Çavuşoğlu

    One of Aslı Çavuşoğlu’s earliest works, Dominance of Shadow, 2004, engaged with Istanbul’s increasingly privatized public spaces via eighteen billboards advertising an imaginary Hollywood film that the artist installed throughout the city. Her poster featured a collage of Renée Zellweger, a made-up blurb from the Washington Post, and other elements used in promoting blockbusters. Some of the billboards remained on public view for years.

    Çavuşoğlu’s latest work pondered political graffiti, specifically that which promotes a similarly elusive objective: a Communist revolution. The show’s title,

  • Neriman Polat, Barikat 1 (Barricade 1), 2015, ink-jet print, 39 3⁄8 × 78 3⁄4". From the series “Barikat” (Barricade), 2015.

    Neriman Polat

    Neriman Polat’s photographs, videos, and sculptural installations explore the links between self-discipline, self-presentation, and imagemaking. In the 1990s, Polat worked as a teacher, a job that acquainted her with Turkey’s high schools, and, especially early on, children were the locus of these investigations. The photographic diptych Untitled, 1996—the earliest work on view in “Mührü Kırmak” (Breaking the Seal), a recent presentation of the artist’s makeshift videos and photocollages from 1996 to 2019—comprises a pair of ID-style photographs of a red-haired teenager. The two photos are nearly