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On May 30th, the Ab Anbar gallery in London will debut “THE STORY BEHIND EACH WORD MUST BE TOLD“ a new monographic exhibition around Nil’s work. Nil will be in London for the occasion – another thrilling yet undoubtedly exhausting “business“ trip for her! She’s leaving in 2 days. We just had a call; she told me, however, that she was glad to be far from Paris. She’s still in the midst of moving, and the constructors are now renovating/demolishing her old apartment for the future occupants. Noisy and disturbing.

I’ve been in touch with Eric, the senior Gallery Assistant at Ab Anbar gallery, for some time now. I realize that the archival work we’ve been engaged in since January is already gaining significant importance, proving useful for several individuals—Eric included. While developing this new exhibition, he requested some of Nil’s archives and photographs from me. A similar scenario unfolded with Diana Quinby, the art historian, who required Nil’s work photographs for an upcoming publication; and also with Omar Kholeif, who sought Nil’s youthful photos to illustrate his book on her work (Circular Tension, 2024). It’s becoming increasingly evident how vital it is to collect, gather, organize, and centralize Nil’s archives. 

Image 1: sample of the exhibition in London. Lord Byron Meets The Shaman Woman

This new exhibition is inspired by the LP vinyl record “Le chant des troubadours de Turquie: Achik Nesimi” that Nil Yalter produced in collaboration with Bernard Dupaigne for Aşık Nesimi Çimen in 1979, who was at that time in exile in Paris. Born in Adana, Turkey, in 1931, Nesimi was the master of cura as one of the leading bards of his generation that connected the centuries old Aşık tradition with contemporary issues and struggles of his time.

Image 2: sample of the exhibition in London. Exile is a Hard Job (Estranged Doors)

Here’s a snippet of the exhibition text, set for unveiling on May 30th at the gallery:

“It is a fragile world we inhabit, woven with intricate processes akin to an ongoing spider web. No word stands in isolation to elucidate this fragility and intricacy. And the human responsibility arises from narrating the story behind each word, ensuring there’s no misinterpretation. For over half a century, Nil Yalter’s oeuvre has been dedicated to unveiling the strength, resilience, and hope encapsulating this fragile, intricate core. She delves into narratives of individuals sustaining the world amidst a profound critique of intersectional injustice. Weaving these tales with elements borrowed from Anatolia’s ancient oral and visual traditions and the codes of modernism she resonates with, “THE STORY BEHIND EACH WORD MUST BE TOLD“ zeroes in on one of the central motifs in Yalter’s practice stemming from the nomadic lives and their resistance within Anatolia’s Aşık tradition: the word and its utterance, its sound and its music…“

Many of Nil’s iconic works will be presented : D’Après Stimmung (1973), Nesrin (1982), to Pixelismus (1993), Sound of Painting (2008) and Lord Byron Meets Shaman Woman (2009).

Nil will also engage in a performance called « In the Land of Troubadours » on June 2nd at the Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre. It’s a 90-minute amalgamation of song, poetry, stories, and research. There is a conversation scheduled between Nil and the curator Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu following the performance.

Image 3: sample of the exhibition in London. D'Après Stimmung (studies)

Furthermore, on Friday, May 31st, there will also be a Book Launch at the gallery. Omar Kholeif will present his new book Nil Yalter: Circular Tension, published by Mousse Publishing with support from Archivorum. In this special event for London Gallery Weekend, Kholeif will read excerpts, drawing parallels between their upbringing in Cairo, Egypt, and Yalter’s experiences. Joined by Azadeh Zaferani, co-director of Ab- Anbar, they will discuss the necessary tools to uncover overlooked histories, specifically focusing on the context surrounding women artists’ lives—individuals often consigned to the margins.

Image 4: sample of the exhibition in London. Nesrin

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to London for this amazing weekend.

The Archivorum team has a trip to Como coming up (we will be visiting the Fondazione Antonio Ratti), and the prices for London are absolutely out of this world! Especially since it’s London Gallery Weekend. Nevertheless, it will undoubtedly be a bustling weekend for Nil.

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