Ayşe Erkmen

Biography of Ayşe Erkmen

Ayşe Erkmen prides herself in being an artist without a studio, as well as an artist who does not conform to specific styles or forms of art. Her use of conceptual materials is so vast should she try to adapt her practice to a workplace, she would need to reimagine it as often as her inspirations differ. Instead, the highly spontaneous artist chooses to take her ideas directly to architects and curators who help push her reactions to places, contexts, and events as she grapples with such concepts as necessity, transformation, perception, time, and space.


In 1977 Ayşe Erkmen obtained a degree in sculpture from the Mimar Sinan University, in Istanbul, where the artist was born in 1949. In 1993 she took part in the International Artist Residency Program (Berliner Künstlerprogramm) which allowed her a bursary to take on an artist residence in Berlin. From this time onwards the artist has divided her time between Turkey and Germany. The artist has lectured at the Kassel Art Academy, the Frankfurt Staedschule and has also taught in the Hessen province of Germany, where she was awarded in 2002 the Maria Sibylla Merian prize.


Alongside her career in academia, Ayşe Erkmen continues the pursuit of her own work, which includes sculpture, film, and installation.  Ayşe Erkmen has made a name for herself in the art world, having employed everything from boats to live tigers in the execution of her visions. For the Skulpture Projekte Munster the artist reached new levels of excellence, when her installation required viewers to walk through water. Selecting Munster’s inland harbor as the setting for the piece, she installed a usable bridge just below the surface of the water running between the northern and southern piers of the city. The idea was that the piece would be activated as viewers used this bridge, giving the impression of literally treading on water.


Ayşe Erkmen has had many important solo exhibitions in renowned art institutions all over the world. These include the Barbican Art Center, London, the Witte de With, Rotterdam, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, the Sculpture Center, New York, Magasin III and Konsthall, Stockholm, the Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen and the Secession, Wien. She has taken part in Biennales in Istanbul, Berlin, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but most notably was selected to represent Turkey at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.

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