Nancy Atakan

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Nancy Atakan (b. 1946) was born in Virginia, US. She is a visual artist living and working in Istanbul since 1969.[1] Her works deal with issues of feminism, gender, identity and memory. Also a critic and art historian, she has completed her PhD on conceptual art in Turkey. She is a co-founder of the artist-run-space 5533, operating since 2008 in Istanbul Traders' Market Shopping Center.[2][3]


Nancy Atakan completed her undergraduate education in Studio Art and Art History in 1968 at the University of Mary Washington and moved to Istanbul in 1969. She completed her PhD titled "Conceptual Art in Turkey" under the supervision of Zeynep Inankur at Mimar Sinan University in 1994. She taught Art History at Robert College (1983–1997) and History of European Painting and Sculpture at Bosphorus University (1996–2000).[3] In 2007 she participated at a residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada and in 2017 to the Nordic Art Association's (NFK) Residency program with the support of IASPIS.[4]


Having studied painting, Nancy Atakan produces drawings, paintings, videos, installations, photography and needlework, using personal archival materials and exploring the relationship between text and image.

Starting from the 1990s, Atakan emphasized the importance of collaboration in her work and defined her approach as "art as dialogue".[5] In the late 1990s she produced independent exhibitions in collaboration with Gülçin Aksoy, Gul Ilgaz and Neriman Polat, the first of which, titled "Arada" ("In Between") took place in 1997 at Atatürk Cultural Center in Istanbul. Starting from 2000 she also collaborated with the artists from Hafriyat collective in producing several exhibitions in Istanbul: "Local Produce", 2000, Elhamra Passage; "Voices From Homeland", 2001, Karsi Sanat and "Families Only", 2003, Karsi Sanat.[6]

In 2008 when she co-founded the artist-run-space 5533 with Volkan Aslan, she considered this to be a continuation of her practice in the form of "art as dialogue".[7] In the framework of 5533 Nancy Atakan and Volkan Aslan have shaped a programming with the participation of artists and curators such as Adnan Yıldız, Ahmet Öğüt, Anna Eriksson, Asena Günal, Banu Cennetoğlu, CANAN, Cevdet Erek, Can Altay, Fulya Erdemci, Hale Tenger, Ipek Duben, Inci Eviner, Mari Spirito, Marcus Graf, Övül Durmuşoğlu and Pelin Tan.[2][8][better source needed] 5533 was the subject of an archival exhibition held at New York's ISCP (International Studio and Curatorial Program) in 2018 featuring documentation, new works and a series of talks.[9]

In 2016, the first monograph focusing on Nancy Atakan's works, titled Passing On was published by Kehrer Verlag. Edited by Nat Muller, the publication included contributions by Yeşim Turanlı, Nat Müller, Wendy Shaw and Merve Ünsal.[3][10] The book focuses on Nancy Atakan's latest works dealing with female lineage and intergenerational transmission, with a focus on how women's public and private roles were shaped and transformed during the transition from Ottoman Empire to Turkish Republic, and how this transformation affected intimacy.[11]


Nancy Atakan's works have been presented in exhibitions in the following institutions: Weserburg,[12] Elgiz Museum, Istanbul Modern, Akademie der Kunste, DEPO Istanbul, Apartment Project, Middle East Technical University, CerModern, Kunstverein Langenhagen [de], Museum of Contemporary Art Copenhagen and Banff Center among others.[3]


  1. ^ "Nancy Atakan". Artsy. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "5533". Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Muller, Nat (2016). Nancy Atakan. Passing On. Kehrer Verlag. ISBN 9783868286434.
  4. ^ "The Nordic Guest Studio- Nancy Atakan (US/Turkey) | NKF – Nordiska Konstförbundet". Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  5. ^ "Art As Dialogue. A Conversation on Nancy Atakan's Practice". Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  6. ^ "Women Active in Turkish Art Community". Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  7. ^ "When Inside Feels Outside and Outside Feels Inside". Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  8. ^ Bijloos, Emma. "Beyond the Obvious. Independent Artist-Run Spaces in Istanbul". Labforculture. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "Under the Radar: 5533 at ISCP". Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  10. ^ "Artist Talk and Book Launch. Passing On, Nancy Atakan". peramuseum. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Editor, M.-Est (February 12, 2018). "Conversation: Nancy Atakan and Aslı Seven". Retrieved March 12, 2019.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Weserburg: Stay with me". Retrieved April 13, 2018.