Award-winning artist Nil Yalter celebrates legacy of Aşık Nesimi ‘In the Land of Troubadour’: a night of poetry, songs and more!

Widely considered a pioneering feminist video artist, Nil Yalter seeks to question the male gaze and give a platform to socially marginalised groups through her work.

Yalter was recently awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award at the Venice Biennale and her work continues to resonate far and wide. She now brings a brand new live experience, Aşıklar Diyarı [In the Land of Troubadours], to London performing 90 minutes of song, poetry, stories, and more!

Born in Egypt, raised in Turkiye and now based in Paris, Yalter is working with Berlin-based curator Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu to pay tribute to the Anatolian nomadic oral tradition of Âşıklık and the worldly wisdom of aşık [troubadour] poetry that have influenced the artist’s work since the 1970s.

This night at Dalston’s Halkevi [Home of the People] community centre is a chance to immerse yourself in a transgenerational gathering of bards and musicians celebrating the Anatolian nomadic oral traditions of aşıks.

Taking the record “Le Chant des Troubadours de Turquie: Achik Nesimi” that Yalter produced with ethnologist collaborator Bernard Dupaigne in 1979 as a starting point, the gathering will commemorate the great contemporary bard Aşık Nesimi (full name Nesimi Çimen), who was among the 35 people murdered following an arson attack on the Madımak Hotel in Sivas 0n 2 July 1993.

Born in the town of Saimbeyli near Adana, southern Turkiye, in 1931, Aşık Nesimi was famed for following the aşık tradition from the age of 12, writing and performing folk songs on revolution and justice, which have become famed and embedded into Turkish culture.

By collaborating with contemporary performers Ali Yıldız, Gülseven Medar, Zöhre Ülger, Dursun Can, Seda Ates, Oylum Yilmaz and Canan Batur, Yalter will pay tribute to Aşık Nesimi and his legacy.

Named after a song by Nesimi where he compares the attitude of 16th century bard Pir Sultan Abdal to that of 20th century bard, Aşık Veysel – and in which he sings “Tyrants are not fond of the people’s poets” – the new work is composed of songs, poetry, stories, research excerpts and a short talk between Nil Yalter and Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu to introduce the roots of aşık poetry.

This is the third year that UP Projects, a public art organisation which specialises in socially engaged public art commissioning, have collaborated with London Gallery Weekend on the Performance Programme, bringing world class performance art out of the gallery and into public spaces across London for broad public audiences to enjoy for free.

Event Details

Date: Sunday 2 June 2024

Start Time: 3pm

Venue: Halkevi Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre, 31-33 Dalston Lane, Dalston London E8 3DF

Admission: free but prior reservation needed. Only 2 people per booking allowed.

Tickets: visit London Gallery Weekend to reserve your place – click here


Main image, top, of Nesimi Çimen Left) and Nil Yalter