Galerist is pleased to host Nil Yalter’s solo exhibition “Kara Kum*” between the dates 9 March -
21 April 2018. Bringing together new works by Yalter, the exhibition takes its title from the
material transformation of burnt sand into black, as observed at a foundry in the neighborhood
of Hasköy, Istanbul. The blackness of this special material, the flames that transform it as well
as the crater, known as the flaming Door to Hell, in the middle of the Karakum Desert are the
source of the artist’s investigation into images of darkness and closure.
Focusing on a series of relationships that are central to art, science and mythologies such as
those between the concepts of production and destruction, chaos-balance, black holes and
universe(s), Nil Yalter observes Hasköy, a neighborhood in Istanbul currently undergoing a
process of urban transformation, through its streets and its sand-casting foundry workshops.
Travelling through the flaming hole inside one small workshop towards the center of the Earth,
the artist sees Piet Mondrian’s meticulous perfectionism and geometry in the metal machine of
Having worked on the processes of urban transformation affecting neighboorhoods of a diverse
set of cities such as Paris, New York, Istanbul and Lyon, for her exhibition “Kara Kum”, Nil
Yalter has collected various materials and images from the rapidly changing neighborhood of
Hasköy to create installations, videos, photographs, canvases and a performance. The notion of
the ritual, which has held a special place in the artist’s career spanning more than 50 years, is
staged in this exhibition as the space of encounter between alchemy, physics and art. Chapters
of prologue and epilogue support the theatrical installation of the works, transforming the
exhibition into a scenography encapsulating the viewer.
A pioneer in the French feminist art movement of the 1970s, Nil Yalter (born 1938, Cairo) was
educated at Robert College, the prestigious American secondary educational institution in
Istanbul. While she was engaged in dance, theatre and painting during this time, she also
practiced pantomime and traveled on foot to India as a pantomime artist. Yalter has lived in
Paris since 1965. She participated in the French counterculture and revolutionary political
movement of the late 1960s. These social movements and ethnographic science have
influenced the artist’s videos, performances and installations starting from the 1970s in the form
of an idiosyncratic, pluralistic aesthetics. The influence of abstract traditions, especially of
Russian constructivism, can be observed in her paintings and digital works since her earliest
works. Nil Yalter’s works reflect a style blending together all these influences along with
autobiographical elements where the personal and the political intertwine.
Nil Yalter’s works have been exhibited at institutions such as the Los Angeles Museum of
Contemporary Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC), Museum of
Modern Art PS1 Gallery, Contemporary Art Center (Vancouver, Canada), Musée d’Art Moderne
de la Ville de Paris. Her works are in the permanent collections of Tate Modern, Istanbul
Modern, Centre Pompidou, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Museum Ludwig among others.