Kaya Genç

  • 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

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


    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.


    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