Nil Yalter lives and works in Paris, FR

 

For over five decades, Nil Yalter has used a Portapak video recorder and, more recently, a smartphone camera, along with photographs, drawings, installations, and writings, to conduct sociocritical research. Born in Cairo and raised in Turkey, the self-taught artist immigrated to France in 1965, where she continues to live in political exile to this day. Her paradisciplinary approach places undocumented or misrepresented and underrepresented voices not only at the center of her art but also at the core of society. In Yalter’s installation La Roquette, Prison de Femmes [La Roquette, Women’s Prison, 1974–75], we learn about carceral sexism in the French prison-industrial complex. The Paris prison La Petite Roquette, for example, served until its 1974 closure as a state infrastructure for punishing women who claimed bodily autonomy or who had fought against France’s anti-Communist regimes during World War II and after. Using material recorded by Mimi, a former inmate, Yalter collaborated with the painter Judy Blum and the video artist Nicole Croiset to produce an installation comprised of video, transcripts, drawings, and photographs.

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Nil Yalter, Exile Is A Hard Job, 1983/2022, montage of paper works & b/w video stills, dimensions variable © Nil Yalter

In a later work, Exile Is a Hard Job (1983/2022)—adapted for the 12th Berlin Biennale as a poster work on display in both public space and the exhibition—the artist similarly demonstrates her intersectional commitment to social justice. The result is a collage of photographs, a quote, and videotaped conversations with women and families from Portugal and Turkey. Their words confront “the metropolitan majority” (Nikita Dhawan) with the question of what it means to live in exile—a task requiring challenging daily work to develop the skills and knowledge needed to survive the violence of silencing and invisibility within a supposedly representative democracy.

Doreen Mende

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Nil Yalter, Exile Is A Hard Job, 2012/2022, posters in public space, dimensions variable © Nil Yalter

Exhibitions

Des femmes dans l’art – Hommage à Aline Dallier, 2022, Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, Paris (FR)

Sekron: LENS’21: Personal Narratives in Video Art, 2021, Mixer, Istanbul (TR)

Female Sensibility, 2021, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Linz (AT)

So wie wir sind 3.0, 2021, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen (DE)

Exile Is a Hard Job, 2019, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (DE) (solo)

Trans/Humance, 2019, Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine (FR) (solo)

Nil Yalter, 2018, Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna (AT) (solo)