L’Atlas and 1 Mira Madrid gallery present “Exile is a hard job”, a solo exhibition by Nil Yalter. During the 1970s and 1980s, the French and Turkish artist worked on the margins of society, documenting the lives and struggles of exiled workers in the urban peripheries of Istanbul, New York and Paris. The exhibition features polyptychs combining videos, texts and photographs emblematic of the artist’s career.
Born in Cairo, Nil Yalter has spent most of her life between Turkey and Paris. Since she moved to the country in the early 1960s, she has established herself as a pioneer of feminist video art in France and produced an extensive body of work around questions of identity, anticipating in her work what would come to be known as an intersectional perspective. Her works recount the daily lives, living conditions and discrimination faced by immigrant working families, condemning the systems that maintain these inequalities. Using photography, writing and quasi-archaeological samples, the artist draws on the research tools of sociology and anthropology to produce works that are both conceptual and sensible.
The series “Exile Is A Hard Job” (1983), which lends its title to the exhibition, is inspired by the words of Turkish poet Nâzim Hikmet. It evokes the nostalgia of immigrants for what they leave behind and the struggle that awaits them, entwining their stories with those of Turkish myths, poetry and popular beliefs. The interweaving of images and texts sketches out a set of narratives that underline the link between the experiences of different exiled communities, stigmatization, economic exploitation, the desire for integration and nostalgia for home.
Throughout her career, Nil Yalter has sought to materialize the memory of communities whose narratives are often invisibilized. In 2019, the MacVal devoted a solo exhibition to her entitled “TRANS/HUMANCE”. In 2018, she received the AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions) honorary award. Next summer, Adriano Pedrosa, curator of the Venice Biennale 2024, will devote an entire room in the Arsenale to her work. This exhibition is organized as part of the first Emerige x Comité Professionnel des Galeries d’Art Prize, during which the artist and her gallery received a special mention at ARCO Madrid in 2022.