Art Talk: Gülhatun Yıldırım & Simge Burhanoğlu & Azra İşmen

Bilsart presents Gülhatun Yıldırım’s  exhibition entitled ‘There is Water under the Skin’ between April 17 – April 27, 2024.

Organized by Performistanbul under the supervision of Simge Burhanoğlu & Azra İşmen, the exhibition titled There is Water under the Skin, featuring the outcomes of Gülhatun Yıldırım’s live performances, presents the documentation and remains of three different performances through various mediums. In the exhibition, the performances titled Eternal or Other, which took place in the Rhine River in Germany in 2023, Moon and Sun, which has been actualised in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region and Isonzo River in Italy in 2022, and Polynya, which was realised in a museum in Turkey, are exhibited in the form of photograph, video, notebook, along with the main elements of the performances – water -, displayed as an organic residue, the common unifying material of the three performances. In this way, the journey of the performances is witnessed through three different stories of water: from nature, collected and transformed. While the documentation reveals the seen and experienced actions in the performances, water refers to the invisible and the intangible. 

The photographic documentation of the Polynya performance is accompanied by water melted from the massive ice cube used during the performance, the water residue here is exhibited in the category of transformed water, similarly in addition to the video documentation of Eternal or Other the water collected from the river is displayed  as part of the category of water retrieved from nature. In the performance entitled Moon and Sun, together with the diary/notebook kept by the artist during the performance, water obtained from the surrounding people and places where the performance happened, is included to the exhibition as part of  the category collected water.

Water, the common remain of the performances, not only represents the relationships established during the performance processes through the memory and structure that it carries, but also bears the physical traces of that process and space – scientifically speaking, it also contains the bacteria, molecules and similar particles as well as microorganisms of the geography and environment in which it is originated- and reveals its existence without evaporating and turning into its final form as part of the inevitable transformation.

Yıldırım approaches water through its different states, handling it as part of the performance process reminiscing the cycle of life, while at the same time making her own body, the participants, including everything else she interacts with to become a part of this transformation and integrating them. The water that remains from her performances continues to both carry and keep alive the traces of the process within itself.


Gülhatun Yıldırım conducts research by reconsidering both the body and long durational performances. Her practice and productions are based on biographical layers, personal research, long-term observations including various mediums. While examining the place of the body in nature and its interaction with nature; the artist works on its relationship with space, time and memory, often using the element of water as the main material in her performances. By engaging with the various states, forms and volumes of water, the artist transforms this substance into a means of communication and connection. These processes of engagement may be witnessed through the documentation of the performances.

Main performances include:

Eternal or Other, realised as part of “Transition – Between Apocalypse and Utopia” curated by PAErsche, Rhine River, Köln, Germany, (2023), Moon and Sun, realised as part of the “B#Side the River Contemporary Art Festival” Special Edition and Guest Artist Residency, organized by Io Deposito and curated by Chiara Isadora Artico, Isonzo River, Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, Italy, (2022), POLYNYA, as part of “Upcycle Istanbul” Festival, in collaboration with Performistanbul and Artnivo, Gazhane Museum, Istanbul, (2022), Submerge, Co-creation Live Factory “Dissenting Bodies-Marking Time”, Venice International Performance Art Week, European Cultural Centre | Palazzo Mora & Palazzo Michiel, Venice, Italy, (2020), Source(II), as part of Darağaç “V: Necessity” exhibition, Izmir, (2019), Rolling, on-going project, various public spaces, (2019-), Inside, as part of “Needed: You 672 Hours Live Process”, curated by Simge Burhanoğlu, Performistanbul Live Art Research Space (PCSAA), Istanbul, (2018), I am The Thorn, with the curation and organized by Panicattack Duo (Naz Balkaya, Emilia Demetriou) and Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith, as part of “Razzmatazz Vol.4 :: An All Female Performance Happening”, with Performistanbul Asylum Caroline Garden’s Chapel, London, (2017), Water, curated by Simge Burhanoğlu, with Performistanbul, Pi Artworks, Istanbul, (2016), Water Rituals, on-going project, various spaces, (2016), Italy – ), Salt, with Peter Toy, Maumau Gallery, Istanbul, (2015), Unconnected, ODTU Forest, Ankara, (2015), Just Like The Past, Istiklal Street, Istanbul, (2015), 3 Points, as part of International Performance Art Association Performance Art Workshop, Tarabya Culture Academy, Istanbul, (2014).