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Thematic order


Nil Yalter

Nil Yalter

First Turkish female video artist
"The camera is looking at me, and I am looking at the camera"

Date of Birth: 15/01/1938 1938

Place of Birth: Cairo

Date of Death:

Place of Death:

Burial Site:



Nil Yalter Nil Yalter Nil Yalter

Field of Activity

Video Art
I settled in Paris in 1965. I painted nonstop between 1966 and 1969. The paintings were abstract, but they reflected the tension of the period around 1968. I had a culture shock when I arrived in Paris. It took time to catch up with new developments in the arts. Then, in 1972, with the birth of feminism, I started video work and installations. That is when I stepped into modern art.
I was in Paris during the 1968 events. My introduction to feminism was with Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex."I was 18 then. It was in 1956. After 1968 events, there was a feminist revolution. In 1971, 343 women signed a declaration which said: "We too had an abortion." After a long battle, legislation was passed that was pro choice. Many women organized themselves into groups. I had a group of my own. We would meet twice a month at one of the studios and we would discuss women's place in the Arts. We would make statistics. These gatherings were open to everybody. We wanted to find out how many female artists were represented in galleries. In 1972, in France, Pompidou's first modern art exhibition had one female artist as opposed to 99 male artists.
Calling attention to the discrimination in the art world, arguing and fighting against it, protesting in front of galleries...We did all we could. And it helped. In those days women artists had nothing to lose so we were very brave.
I believe that, because we went through these times, women artists now are more daring and confident. They create better work. Especially those in Istanbul.
I did a lot of work with Turkish migrant workers. When I worked with them, I never told them that I was there to create art or to take their picture. That would have been disrespectful to them. I always worked with organizations. In 1977 the Turkish Radio in Paris announced the Paris Biennale. The Turkish workers came to the opening of the exhibition. They were allowed in free when they showed their work-ID card. The exhibition manager was furious. He was afraid they would break things. I told him that if they weren't allowed to come, I would remove my work from the exhibition. Nobody broke anything. I believe I am the first who did this kind of project. In this way specially the art world experienced something very new.
I taught myself how to use all the programmes and the software. I never went to art school, but I have been involved in art since I was 5. I never played with dolls. Pantomime, painting, theatre was my world. I had a very supportive family.
Nil Yalter

Pınar Turanlı, "Nil Yalter: Ümitle Yaşamak, Çalışmak Lazım", Lebriz Sanal Dergi, 25 November 2011.


For Nil Yalters expositions see Nil Yalter personal home page

Collections with the work of Nil Yalter






Robert College, İstanbul

Contributions to Society


Family and Friends


Projects in her Honour

(No information available)

Further Reading

For Nil Yalter bibliyografie see: Nil Yalter personal home page

Pınar Turanlı, "Nil Yalter:Ümitle Yaşamak, Çalışmak Lazım", Lebriz Sanal Dergi, 25 Kasım 2011,§ionID=6&articleID=972&bhcp=1 (Erişim 23.2.2012).

Dilek Winchester, "Yasemin Özcan Kaya, Nil Yalter: Erkek Senesi Köpek Senesi", Haksız Tahrik (unjust Provocation), Bir Sergi Kitabı, İstanbul, 2009, ss. 91-102 ("Men's Year Dog's Year", ss. 242-255).

Ayrıca (Erişim 23.2.2012).

Melis Tezkan, Gerçeklige Alternatif Bir Gerçeklik: Nil Yalter Videosu, Nil Yalter kişisel web sayfası, (erişim 23.2.2012).


Quoted Sources
Source of Visual Images
  • Nil Yalter privat archive. Foto: Brigitte Muller-Fehn, 1975


The Women's Museum Istanbul is grateful to Nil Yalter for her support in producing this introductory page.

Translation into Englisch: Emre Aslay, Chicago, İllinois, USA
Editing: Lyndall von Dewitz, Oberasbach, Germany

©2012 Meral Akkent
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