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Heading Towards the Physical Archives

With a slight delay, we’ve finally reached a milestone: all the digital archives that Nil consented to share with Archivorum for our database have now been transferred to my SSD and meticulously inventoried – Yes!! We’ve logged a total of 694 entries so far. But we’re not quite finished yet: there’s still the task of inventorying the digital archives from Ab-Anbar gallery, those belonging to Nil’s gallerists in Istanbul, and, if possible, any that the French art historian Fabienne Dumont may be willing to contribute. Nevertheless, it’s a significant portion of the “Data Collection“ phase that’s now under our belt. 


With that said, the second phase of our “backup“ mission is set to kick off very soon: the gathering and organization of Nil’s physical archives. The majority of these materials (slides, documents, and negatives) are housed in Nil’s studio.


Image 1 : Nil showing me physical archives we should digitize


The only hiccup is that renovations are currently underway at her studio, making it tricky to access. So, I suggested to Nil that during my next visit, we take a look through her apartment to identify any archives here that need digitizing. Luckily, she has a high-quality scanner at home, which ensures we can achieve superb digitization results.


However, a few documents at her apartment have already piqued my interest. In

particular, there's this green folder brimming with photographs of Nil in her early years. “Nil, what is this folder…? And those beautiful pictures?!“ I asked her, intrigued and shocked by the age of the clichés. “Oh, just old photos... I have so many, you can’t imagine!“  she replied. “Would you accept we sort and digitize them for the archive?“ “Yes of course, but good luck my dear!“; she responded with a chuckle.


Image 2 : Inside Nil’s green folder


In this folder, approximately thirty childhood photographs are haphazardly stacked. A true treasure trove for any art historian and archivist. And I know this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Images 3 : Nil in 1976

Images 4 : another « Bebek » picture dating from 1938 !


Nil keeps her monthly calendars with meticulous dedication, noting down all her meetings: time, date, phone numbers, and sometimes addresses. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, these calendars have been particularly busy since the announcement of the Golden Lion. Before I left, I took a glance at Nil's March calendar and asked her, “Nil, do you usually keep your calendars?“ “Yes, of course, I keep all of them for the year“ she replied. “Would you mind if I digitized them and added them to the archive as well?“ “Yes, as you wish!“ Oh yes! Another valuable addition to the archive. Although seemingly modest, I believe these calendars hold immense significance. They provide a unique glimpse into Nil’s daily organization, priorities, engagements, and social interactions. They serve as another form of snapshots of her life, offering precious insights into her activities and thoughts at specific moments.


Image 5 : Nil’s March Calendar


At this point, I’m just realizing that we’re embarking on a very exciting phase of the project (!!!).

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