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Nil Yalter

SAHA supported the production of the new work by Nil Yalter for the exhibition “The Absent Museum” at WIELS in Brussels, held between 20 April–13 August 2017.

The title, “The Absent Museum”, is a nod to the decisive influence that symbolist, ‘mystical-mysterious’ thinking has had and continues to have on Belgian modernity. While WIELS is actually classified as a contemporary art center rather than museum, it is commonly referred to by the public as ‘the WIELS museum’. This is a token not only of recognition, but also of the expectations that the Belgian audience and public opinion have of WIELS as an institution. WIELS therefore has decided to use this temporary exhibition to set out a substantive framework or blueprint for a possible museum of contemporary art in the capital of Europe.

For the exhibition at WIELS, Nil Yalter has been invited to show photographic, graphic and filmic works from her seminal series “Turkish Immigrants” (1977), as well as a new iteration of her poster campaign titled after the slogan of the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet (1901–1963), “Exile is a hard job”.

After Valencia (2012), Mumbai (2013), Vienna (2014), Metz and Istanbul (2016), Yalter’s images extend to Brussels, a multicultural city that has seen waves of immigrants come through. The performance is organized in close collaboration with the artist, who will be present. A selection of specific locations around the city was made, closely tied to various immigrant communities that reside in those areas. Once the posters have been put up by a team of professionals, the artist, as well as members of the WIELS team, painted the sentence “Exile is a hard job” over the posters, in red paint. The texts are either in English, French, Dutch, Turkish or Arab.

Artists: Francis Alÿs, Archives de l'Ambassade Universelle, Younes Baba-Ali, Jo Baer, Monika Baer, Sammy Baloji, Guillaume Bijl, Dirk Braeckman, Marcel Broodthaers, stanley brouwn, Daniel Dewar & Gregory Gicquel, Marlene Dumas, Jimmie Durham, Jana Euler, Olivier Foulon, Michel François, Ellen Gallagher, Mekhitar Garabedian, Isa Genzken, Jef Geys, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Cameron Jamie, Ann Veronica Janssens, Martin Kippenberger, Goshka Macuga, Mark Manders, Lucy McKenzie, Wesley Meuris, Nástio Mosquito, Jean-Luc Moulène, Le Mur, Oscar Murillo, Otobong Nkanga, Felix Nussbaum, Willem Oorebeek, Marina Pinsky, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Gerhard Richter, Walter Swennen, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rosemarie Trockel, Luc Tuymans, Peter Wächtler, Christopher Williams, Nil Yalter.

About Nil Yalter

Nil Yalter (1938, Cairo), a pioneer in the French feminist art movement of the 1970s was educated at Robert College, the prestigious American secondary educational institution in Istanbul. Yalter has lived in Paris since 1965. She participated in the French counter culture and revolutionary political movement of the late 1960s, immersing herself in the debate around gender, migrant workers from Turkey, and other issues of the time. She also experimented in different media including drawing, photography, video, and performance art. She was a member of “Fighting Women”, a group of women artists who were active from 1976 to 1980. Her earliest feminist work, “A Nomad’s Tent, a Study of Private, Public, and Feminine Spaces”dates from 1973. “The Headless Woman or the Belly Dance” (1974) is a classic of early feminist art. In 1978, she mounted a performance and installation acting out everyday life in a harem using a few pieces of furniture and utensils as part of  “A Day of Actions”, held in the studio of one of the other members of the collective. The video of that day was recently found in 2011 when art historian, Fabienne Dumont, was working on a book about Nil Yalter. It was digitized by the French National Library and is one of the few videos of the French feminist art movement in the 1970s. One of Yalter’s interests in Shamanism; she has created two videos, “Lord Byron Meets the Shaman Woman” (2009) as well as a previously unviewed video from 1979, “Shaman”. This last work employs shaman masks from Paris’s ethnographic Musée de l’Homme, and reflects her resistance to the appropriation by museums in the West. She has had many solo exhibitions including several at theMuseum of Modern Art of Paris, starting in 1973 and coming up to the present time. Her work was included in the influential “WACK!” exhibition in the United States which traveled from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art PS1 galleries, and the Contemporary Art Center, Vancouver, Canada. Her sculptures, videos, and installations are in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, the Istanbul Modern, Centre Pompidou and the Fonds national d’art contemporain among others.

About WIELS , Contemporary Art Centre

As one of the leading institutions for contemporary art in Europe, without a permanent collection, WIELS presents temporary exhibitions by national and international artists, both emerging and more established. WIELS is a site of creation and dialogue, in which art and architecture form the bases for a discussion about current events and issues, not only through the exhibition programme, but also through a host of complementary activities.

WIELS opened its doors in 2007, in a restored former brewery from the 1930s – designed by Belgian architect Adrien Blomme – and the idea of establishing a centre for contemporary art in the heart of Europe became a reality. Although still relatively young, WIELS has presented more than 65 exhibitions; it has welcomed over 130 residents; and has spearheaded innumerable educational and social-artistic initiatives.