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Focus on Kara Kum

In my conversations about Nil's work with various individuals, one question frequently arises: does Nil still create today? The answer is yes, albeit with diminished intensity and regularity. Arthritis-related issues hinder her ability to draw as she would like, but she still produces digital artworks. Recently, she designed a poster for a project in collaboration with curator Lorenzo Benedetti, and a performance in collaboration with a longtime artist friend is also in preparation for this summer.


Therefore, as we discuss Nil's recent creations, I'd like to spotlight one of her latest installations dating back to 2018, titled "Kara Kum" (literally meaning "Black Sand" in English), commissioned by the Istanbul gallery Galerist.

When sand is burned and turns black, a peculiar substance emerges. It was this intriguing material that Nil discovered and that seized her attention during a visit to a mold-making workshop in the Hasköy district of Turkey. Drawing inspiration from the darkness of this material and the fiery crater of the Gates of Hell situated in the Karakum Desert, Nil explores themes of darkness and confinement through her installation.


Her immersive work weaves a thread between different realms, drawing from concepts of black holes, the duality of chaos and equilibrium, as well as the notions of production and disappearance, which lie at the heart of art, science, and mythology. Nil Yalter closely observes the urban transformation of neighborhoods like Hasköy in Istanbul, where the streets and workshops of mold artisans are gradually disappearing. By exploring these shifting environments, the artist evokes journeys from the fire of a pit to the core of the earth, while also noting similarities in the machines of artisans to the geometric perfectionism of painter Piet Mondrian.


Throughout her career, Nil Yalter has often addressed urban mutations in metropolises such as Paris, New York, Istanbul, and Lyon. For this exhibition, "Kara Kum," in addition to installations, videos, photographs, and canvases created from materials and images collected in Hasköy, the artist has crafted a performance aimed at reflecting the rapid change undergone by this neighborhood. This exhibition, which delves into the concept of ritual – a theme dear to her throughout her 50-year career –  thus becomes a convergence point between alchemy, physics, and art. "Kara Kum" transforms into an immersive scenography, involving the viewer through prologue and epilogue segments that contribute to the theatrical atmosphere of the exhibition. (Information gathered from the Institut français de Turquie)


I also invite you to read Mine Haydaroglu's enlightening critique published in Artforum about this specific installation : 

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