Born in 1949 in (Turkey)
Lives and works in (Germany )


Ayse Erkmen was born in 1949 in the old Greek quarter of Istanbul, where she spent her childhood and adolescence. She studied sculpture at the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts before launching her artistic career in an environment where the political context was far from stable. The artist’s youth was marked by the three military coups d’état that Turkey experienced between 1960 and 1980.

Between the 1980 coup d’état and the early 1990s when the military stranglehold started to be relaxed, Ayşe Erkmen’s activities remained confined to the borders of the country, cut off from the outside world. It was only when she obtained a DAAD scholarship in 1992 that the artist moved to Berlin and made contact again with the international scene. From then on, her production became remarkably consistent and has been represented at the most important events across the globe. Formally, her works are extremely diverse. Their common characteristic is that they have all been designed for a specific place at a given time, thus becoming untransportable and irreplacable within the environment in which they were designed.

Starting with her first installations and sculptures, which have now almost entirely disappeared – only a select number are visible, via their photographic documentation – Ayşe Erkmen developed her own minimalist language and maintained close ties with conceptual art. She favours the processes of devising and producing the work as opposed to the finished product, and focuses on the almost invisible (or almost visible) and the infinitely small. Her installations blend in so well with the environment they find themselves in that they are sometimes only perceptible by chance.

Yekhan Pinarligil