Since the 1990s, Turkish-German artist NASAN TUR (°1974. Offenbach, Germany.) has created quite a stir with his daring performances. In 1998, he sang about love and humanity, from a spire, in different languages, five times a day and for the whole city of Offenbach. Not much later he presented playful “performances” in the streets. From making somersaults in public places in different cities to lying dead still in a puddle in the middle of a street. The responses were mixed. Sometimes passers-by experienced these acts as absurd, while elsewhere they were seen as radical, controversial political statements.
Nasan Tur grew up in a non-political environment. In the mid-sixties, his parents moved – mainly for economic reasons, and not as political refugees – from a small village in the Turkish mountains to Germany. As ‘guests’ in Germany, they had no right to call into question the political structure in which they lived. They shared this apolitical attitude with quite a few other ‘guest worker’ families. This environment informed the childhood experience of Tur, as well as the way he looked at himself in society. At the beginning of his artistic career, he saw himself more as a sociologist than as an artist. The core of his work still consists of observation, analysis and reproduction. Every work is politically charged and highly topical. In this way, he places himself within a tradition of artists who try to engage with, and give expression to, the daily deluge of depressing reports in the media (from religious fanaticism, economic problems and social dramas to environmental disasters), even if these artists are aware that their own position is too weak to actually change anything.
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In a world where we are inundated with visual stimuli such as mass media images and fragmented information, we need artists like Tur who critically approach both themselves and the contradictions and mechanisms within our reality, who reflect on hidden agendas, and who take stereotypes, deceit, ambiguities and black-and-white thinking as starting points for new work.
His series ‘City Says’ is a good example of his working method. For this work he collected a number of subversive phrases that were plastered as graffiti across the façades of a particular city. He rewrote these thousands of messages over each other in red ink on a wall in a museum, until the wall was transformed into a flat, red surface. The power of language and the way the artist engages with the complexity of the city is tangibly present.
The work of Nasan Tur has already been recognized with eleven awards, including the Villa Massimo Award of the Deutsche Akademie Rom Villa Massimo in Rome (2014), and the Will-Grohmann ArtPrize at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin (2012).
Nasan Tur made solo shows at dozens of places. We list the most important and recent ones: Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland (2018); Fondazione Adolfo Pini, Milan, Italy (2017); Oldenburger Kunstverein, Oldenburg, Germany (2017); Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Nordhorn, Germany (2017); Kunsthalle Göppingen, Göppingen, Germany (2017); Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna, Austria (2016); Deweer Gallery, Otegem, Belgium (2016); Musei di Villa Torlonia, Rome, Italy (2015); WEST, The Hague, the Netherlands (2015); Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria (2014); Kunsthal 44 Møen, Askeby, Denmark (2014); Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany (2011) and Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany (2009).
Tur also participated at more than 150 group shows, such as: Kunsthalle Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia (2018); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (2018); Mardin Biennial, Mardin, Turkey (2018); Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (2018); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany (2018); Schloss Tussling Projects, Tussling, Germany (2017); Fondazione Golinelli, Bologna, Italy (2017); Kressmann – Halle, Offenbach, Germany (2017); MAAT, Lissabon, Portugal (2017); DOCUMENTA 14, documenta 14 radio, Kassel/Athens, Germany/Greece (2017); Kunsthalle Göppingen, Göppingen, Germany (2016); Bucharest Biennial, Bucharest, Romania (2016); MuseumsQuartier Q21 freiraum, Vienna, Austria (2016); Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany (2016); Center of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu – CoCA, Torun, Poland (2016); Salon Dahlmann, Berlin, Germany (2016); LENTOS Museum, Linz, Austria (2016); MAK Museum für angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2016); Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Nordhorn, Germany (2016); Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2015) and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2015).
Works by Nasan Tur have been purchased by collections worldwide: Kunsthalle Mannheim; Kunstmuseum Stuttgart; René Block Collection, Berlin; Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe; Lentos Museum, Linz; Joanneum, Graz; Koç Collection, Turkey; Borusan Museum, Istanbul; Soho House Art Collection, London; Pio Monte della Misericordia Collection, Naples and Botkyrka Konsthall, Tumba, Sweden.
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