Kaya Genç

  • View of “Sena Başöz: Possibilities of Healing,” 2023. Photo: Koray Şentürk for Yapı Kredi Culture Arts and Publishing.
    picks March 21, 2023

    Sena Başöz

    Water features prominently in Turkish artist Sena Başöz’s practice—ebbing and flowing, connecting and separating, sparkling one moment and disappearing the next. One of Başöz’s initial forays into art was a series of videos that explore feelings of alienation, including Swimming Across II, 2009. The work depicts the artist wearing a swimsuit and goggles, desultorily stroking her way across the floor of the Reuters office in Istanbul where she once worked as a data executive. Feeling like a fish out of water, it is there that she desires to go, flowing away from her desk job into the uncharted

  • Mehmet Güleryüz, untitled, 1989. Performance view, Seretonin I, Feshane building, Istanbul, 1989. From “The 90s Onstage.”

    “The 90s Onstage”

    The 1990s were a tumultuous period in Turkey: A financial crisis in 1994 led to the devaluation of the lira, scores of Kurds were forcibly disappeared, and a public life that favored individualism, entrepreneurship, and self-marketing came to the fore. “The 90s Onstage” excavates remnants from this Machiavellian society in meltdown via music videos such as Her Gece (Every Night), 1995, which made its singer, Mirkelam, an overnight sensation; freewheeling television shows such as Late Night Workout with Yasemin, 1992, starring a swimsuit-clad gymnast; and other spectacles broadcast nationally by

  • Erdem Taşdelen, A Moving Target, 2021–22, computer-generated montage sequence with 100 silent UHD videos, approximately 100 minutes.
    picks October 20, 2022

    Erdem Taşdelen

    Last summer, the Turkish artist Erdem Taşdelen began using a Blackmagic pocket camera to film whatever was around him. Over the course of a year, he shot one hundred clips, each around a minute long, in Toronto, Vancouver, and London. A Moving Target, 2021–22, a video compiling these unspectacular B-roll-like segments, depicts, among other things, a traffic light turning from green to red, a nondescript car park surrounded by fences, a utility pole graffitied with the words NOTHING TO DO NOWHERE TO GO, and an empty orange paddle boat sitting in the rain. Taşdelen has collated his moments into

  • View of Carlos Casas’s Cyclope, 2022, Yaklaşım, 17th Istanbul Biennial, 2022. All photos: Sahir Uǧur Eren.
    slant September 27, 2022

    Harvest Moon

    “COMPOST IS SOMETHING where you bring in things together; but it’s also something that you need to leave alone, somethings have to take their own time and place,” mused David Teh, sitting next to his cocurators Ute Meta Bauer and Amar Kanwar at the press briefing of the seventeenth Istanbul Biennial. Compost, Teh went on, “is what gives this year’s biennial its character.” Their talk on September 12 ushered collectives, critics, curators, and “contributors” to this edition (instead of artists) into the Zeytinburnu Medicinal Plants Garden, a first-time venue for the exhibition. Afterward, a

  • Hakan Topal, The Golden Cage, 2022, still from the two-channel 4K video component (color, sound, 28 minutes) of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising prints on clay, stamps, postcards, and books.

    Hakan Topal

    In “Temporary Assembly of Living Things,” Hakan Topal took on Turkey’s multifarious state violence, indicting the perennial tactics of press censorship and police brutality as well as the more recent employment of drones to monitor—and attack—people moving across the country’s borders. Such violence along migratory routes was a focal point of the New York–based artist’s show, which opened with The Golden Cage, 2022, a video that posits birds as transnational creatures and follows, in particular, the northern bald ibis. Called kelaynak in Turkish, this migratory species is said to be the most

  • View of “Nasan Tur,” 2021–22. From left: The Inner Shadows (Dragon), 2021; The Inner Shadows (Spider), 2021; The Inner Shadows (Wolf), 2021. Photo: Nazlı Erdemirel.

    Nasan Tur

    Born into a Gastarbeiter (guest worker) family who moved from Turkey to Germany in the 1960s, Nasan Tur, currently a professor at Berlin-Weissensee Art Academy, places financial structures at the heart of his installations. His best work thus far typically shows him employing Marxist tools to examine labor conditions both within the art ecosystem and in society at large, coupling playful critique with aesthetic allure. For Variationen von Kapital (Variations of Capital), 2013–, he commissioned a computer scientist to calculate all the possible spellings of the word Kapital (more than 41,000),

  • Hacer Kıroğlu, Untitled, 2021, ink on handmade paper, 27 1/2 x 19 1/2".
    picks February 21, 2022

    “What Water Knows”

    Hito Steyerl’s Liquidity Inc., 2014, a multimedia portrait of the mixed-martial-arts fighter Jacob Wood, whose fluid financial assets upended his life, inspired this show, which probes the flowing intersections of capital, global warming, and the 2015 European migrant crisis. Gözde Mimiko Türkkan waxes poetic about water in Innergy/Watery Incantations, 2021, a twelve-minute video she filmed among Venice’s canals, Geneva’s lakes, and the snowy peaks of the Alps. Correlating her angst with restless waves and melting ice caps, Türkkan treats water as a “timeline, a carrier of ancient data.”

  • View of “Burak Kabadayı: Static Shifts, Dynamic Rifts,” 2021.
    picks December 25, 2021

    Burak Kabadayı

    Turkish car culture is the motor of this adrenergic yet tightly controlled show. In Static Shifts, Dynamic Rifts, 2015-2019, video artist Burak Kabadayı uses materials employed in the manufacture of Turkish automaker Tofaş’s iconic Doğan model, repurposing, for example, chrome-plated exhaust pipes to support LCD screens and positioning interior car lamps behind them to illuminate the gallery. In “Circle,” the first of three components of Kabadayı's installation, two simultaneous approximately six-minute videos capture a white Doğan from above and within as the car whirls around the Istanbul Park

  • View of “Emre Hüner,” 2021. Photo: flufoto.

    Emre Hüner

    Since his 2009 show “Juggernaut,” Emre Hüner has used clay, polyurethane, and other materials to build sculptures that embody what he calls “fictional artifacts.” His contribution to the 2015 Istanbul Biennial, whose theme was “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms,” was “Perpetual Island Infinite Vehicle,” 2015, a series of bulky sculptures made of glazed ceramics, steel, and paint, which imitated nature’s organic forms to suggest a topographical landscape. Hüner’s latest show, “[ELEKTROİZOLASYON]: Unknown Parameter Extro-Record,” curated by Aslı Seven, offers eclectic assemblages scattered

  • Volkan Aslan, En İyi Dileklerimle (Best Wishes), 2019, two-channel video projection, color, sound, 7 minutes 55 seconds.

    Volkan Aslan

    In March 2018, Volkan Aslan—an artist known for his tongue-in-cheek ready-made sculptures and thoughtful essay films on city life—began a correspondence with Elif Kamışlı, the Istanbul Biennial’s exhibition manager, to share experiences and ponder Turkey’s oppressive state of affairs. The two pen pals, both in their mid-thirties, had witnessed art patrons and colleagues imprisoned or exiled during the traumatizing purge that followed the attempted coup in 2016. The letters show the writers feeling drowned in Istanbul and articulate a shared sense of being left behind. The correspondence became

  • Larissa Araz, 23 April, 2007. Ink-jet print, 16 x 24."
    picks August 12, 2021

    Larissa Araz

    A photographer from Istanbul, Larissa Araz has built her artistic practice on texts, audio recordings, board games, maps, images, and natural elements that interweave fiction and documentary in a tone at once playful and serious. Her third solo show, “East & West,” comprises a set of black-and-white photographs that tease out similarities among Turkey’s statues and its citizens. In 1933, an official march celebrating the republic’s first decade had boasted of creating “an unprivileged, classless, united mass.” Araz encountered a different reality when she took trips to Turkey’s far west (Çanakkale)

  • 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