For its presentation at the feature sector, Art Basel 2018, Galerist is proud to present Le Chevalier d’Eon (1978) by Turkish / French artist Nil Yalter. ‘Arguably the first artwork from a Middle Eastern context to engage with transgender identity’ (Omar Kholeif, Art Forum, April 2017), Le Chevalier d’Eon (1978) is a seminal, multi-media installation comprising video, paintings, polaroids and photographs. The work is an expansive portrait of a man who decided he wanted to live as a woman. Referencing the Chevalier d’Eon, a famous 18th century French diplomat, soldier and spy, of ambiguous gender, Yalter’s friend transforms himself into a woman on screen, putting on jewelry and female clothes; large, teardrop earrings and fishnet stockings. It is a heightened dramatization of gender transition, underscored by an accompanying soundtrack of Baroque music by Domenico Scarlatti. At a critical moment in the video the following quote, attributed to the Chevalier d’Eon, is spoken: “After having been an honest man, a zealous citizen and a brave soldier all my life, I triumph in being a woman and in being able to be cited forever amongst those many women who have proved that the qualities and virtues of which men have been so proud have not been denied to my sex." Though a radical and groundbreaking investigation and celebration of alterity, the work was almost lost to posterity. Shot in 1978, on a Portapak camera, the video that is at the heart of this body of work, lay unseen and forgotten for decades, Yalter no longer having a machine able to play the video. In the late 2000’s, however, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France offered to restore and digitize her archives, bringing the work once again to light. As Nil realized the restoration of the work proved timely, telling the curator Omar Kholeif, “I had forgotten this work for thirty years… and then realized that now everyone was talking about issues of transsexuality.” The installation comprises the video work, presented alongside a series of photographic portraits, polaroids that functioned as performative studies for the video and black-and-white photographs and two monochromatic paintings that, as Yalter has said, serve as a poetic reference to the abstraction of sexual identity.