The American born Istanbul based artist, teacher, art historian and art critic, Nancy Atakan, has been a resident of Istanbul and an active figure in the Istanbul arts scene since 1969. Originally a painter, in the early 1990's she switched to a multimedia approach encompassing photography, installation, text, digital printing, neon and video. Believing that the art arena is a place where individuals can experiment to develop alternative ways to live and interact with each other, in 2007 she co-founded a non-profit artist initiative and project space called 5533. Over the last decade, in her art practice Atakan has sustained this strong idealistic viewpoint and has focused on creating catalysts for initiating human relationships. While each work investigates broader topics within the contexts in which people interact, she often incorporates recurring autobiographical references to Istanbul, belonging, gender, language and concepts related to femininity.
In My Name is Azade (Freedom) (2016) Atakan brings to life Azade, her former gymnastics teacher and a pioneer of physical therapy. Azade was born during the Ottoman Empire but came of age during the nascent Turkish Republic, an era of transition for cultural norms and gender politics. The drawings lining the gallery walls depict a story that is neither wholly fictional nor factual; telling a refreshing tale of female (bodily) empowerment and of opportunity.
Nancy Atakan, b. 1946. Major exhibitions include Sporting Chances (solo), Pi Artworks London, UK (2016); Little Faces, Big Bodies, Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul, Turkey (2015); Stay With Me, Weserburg Museum, Bremen, Germany (2015); 40 videos from 40 years of video art in Turkey, 25th Ankara International Film Festival, Goethe Institute, Turkey (2014); Me, Myself and I: ME as a Dilemma, Cer Modern, Ankara, Turkey (2013); The Armory Show (curated by The Moving Image), New York, USA (2012); and Dream and Reality- Modern and Contemporary Women Artists from Turkey, Istanbul Modern, Turkey (2011).
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