Kaya Genç

  • 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

  • Nilbar Güres, Die Schublade (The Drawer), 2019, mixed media on fabric, 70 7⁄8 × 55 1⁄8".

    Nilbar Güres

    Both the possibilities and the constraints of gender and sexuality underlie Nilbar Güreş’s practice. Born in Istanbul in 1977, Güreş was a connoisseur and collector of textiles from an early age and studied the teaching of art, design, and textiles at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. For her installations, videos, and fabric sculptures, she engages with artisans, celebrates local crafts, and depicts conflicted, fluid, transitioning bodies that bend to fulfill their desires and, in doing so, become works of art. Menstrual blood, gender-reassigned sex organs, and human totems populate her

  • Nejat Sati, Nelumbo Nucifera, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 14 1⁄8 × 10 5⁄8".

    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, Yıpranan Yer (Worn Part), 2019, video, black-and-white, sound, 3 minutes 18 seconds.

    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

  • Arda Asena, Marsyas, 2019, nylon, polyester stuffıng, rubber band, 144 x 30 x 19".
    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,


    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

  • Leylâ Gediz, Cocoon, 2009, oil on canvas, 39 3⁄8 × 39 3⁄8". From “Positive Space.”

    “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