Sarkis: Site Exhibition

Exhibition Main Sponsor: Garanti Bankası

11 September 2009 - 17 January 2010

Curator: Levent Çalıkoğlu

As one of the most important actors on the contemporary art scene today, Sarkis’s “Site” exhibition at İstanbul Modern points to all the stages that the artist’s career has gone through in the course of half a century. In “Site”, Sarkis reconsiders the different periods of his art together for the first time in an attempt to reinterpret and reconstruct them.

Rebuilding İstanbul Modern’s exhibition spaces into a vast city filled with the evidences of his own past, Sarkis brings conceivable aspects of İstanbul –locations, figures, and events– together in works that he has summoned for the exhibition. Employing all the instruments that keep a city vibrant –from homeless people encountered in the streets to places whose construction seems never to end, from the protagonists of ordinary tales to perceived sounds and smells, and from graffiti to public problems–, the artist intimately orchestrates them all into the important stages of his art.

“Site” is a lavish audio-visual feast whose menu begins with the gouache studies on paper that the artist did in the early 1960s and continues with his pitch-dark installations of the 1970s, with his institutionally critical arrangements of the 1980s, with his neon studies of the 1990s, and finally with his cross-cultural, interdisciplinary work.

On display in “Site” is a rich selection of Sarkis’s works from his own studio and from such leading art museums and institutions as Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, Surp Pırgiç Ermeni Hastanesi Müzesi Istanbul, and Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt.

During the course of the exhibition, there will be an extensive program of activities organized by artist Sarkis that complement the works on display. These activities will be taking place in the public spaces of İstanbul Modern.

In conjunction with “Site”, İstanbul Modern’s Education and Social Projects Department is also conducting a special program of activities consisting of a studio specially prepared to reflect Sarkis’s working style, a “wet-in-wet” watercolor workshop, and a school-workshop for eight young artists.

The İstanbul Modern Cinema is concurrently showing a selection of films that influenced the artist’s career.

About Sarkis

Born in Istanbul in 1938, artist Sarkis studied at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts (now Mimar Sinan University). He has been living and working in Paris since 1964.

Originally taking an interest in painting, Sarkis soon expanded the focus of his attentions to include sculpture as well as audiovisual installations. This aspect of his art became especially clear with his participation in the “Quand les Attitudes deviennent Formes” exhibition organized by Harald Szeemann at Kunsthalle Bern in 1969.

Sarkis is the recipient of the 1967 Prix de la Peinture à la Biennale de Paris and the 1991 Grand Prix National de Sculpture awards.

International exhibitions in which Sarkis has taken part

Documenta VI (1977) and VII (1982), Kassel
Istanbul Biennial 1987, 1989, 1995, 2007
Venice Biennial 1993
Sarkis exhibitions in France

Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris, 1984
Nantes Fine Arts Museum, 1989, 1997
Magasin, Center for Contemporary Art, Grenoble, 1993
Centre Pompidou, 1993
CAPC, Bordeaux, 2000
Lyon Contemporary Art Museum, 2003
Lyon Biennial, 2009
In 2010 the artist will be holding two major exhibitions: one at the Georges Pompidou Center for the Contemporary Arts in Paris and one at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Geneva.


İstanbul Modern would like to thank İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality for their support to the Sarkis: "Site" Exhibition.

İstanbul Modern would like to thank all of the Exhibition Supporters for the sponsorship they have given to the Sarkis: "Site" Exhibition.



İstanbul Modern exhibition areas have been colored by MARSHALL