Müge Yilmaz

TR, 1985
  • resident
    • 2013 – 2014
  • ACC guest resident
    • 2016

Artist statement

In her work, Müge Yilmaz examines the paradoxes surrounding the concept of protection, with a focus on community, survival, and belief/faith. Through performances, photographs, and installations she creates immersive environments inspired by feminist science-fiction. Following the conceptual methodology of Three Ecologies for observing mental (subjective), societal, and environmental developments in parallel, she uses these various cultural media as tools for envisioning potential futures. While keeping protection as a common denominator, her research expands into speculations on preservation and scarcity, as she constantly seeks out and identifies trigger points in the shape of visual manifestations that may provoke subconscious reactions and reflexes.

Her work makes connections between a myriad of metatextual references – most notably hieroglyphics from Neolithic Anatolia, and other artefacts that hold mythical and belief-based properties. Her creatures share morphological features and characteristics with cave drawings, ancient sculpture, and archetypical iconography of hybrid plant-human-animal beings. Her works are intended to be embedded into the lives and phenomenology of their viewer, therefore she encourages us to participate in her installations and rituals, taking an active approach.

During her residency at the Rijksakademie (2013–14), Yilmaz’s research explored the relationship between, and the consequences of, society’s transformation from ‘biotopia’ to ‘technotopia’, focusing on the new systems of knowledge created by this passage – as well as those it erases. She specifically researched both the properties of water and its place in the history of art and philosophy, while making experiments about the properties of wood as a sculptural material, which she started using for the first time during residency workshops.

For the 59th Venice Biennial in 2022, Yilmaz realised a new work titled The Adventures of Umay Ixa Kayakizi. This installation, situated inside the Sterling Pavilion in Giardini, narrated the life and work of her fictional character Umay, a retired astronaut. Umay has dedicated her life to studying and writing feminist science fiction and has a collection of rare works written by women and queer writers under their own names, as well as under male pseudonyms. The pavilion then became her secret ‘studiolo,’ as if suspended in space. The actual books that were part of the installation were presented on totemic sculptures and painted in vibrant blues and greens. Many artefacts and other memorabilia were presented on the shelves together with the books. Similar to other artists in the edition, and in resonance with Cecilia Alemani’s historically feminist and inclusive curatorial context for the 59th Biennale, Müge found analogies or direct correlations between past, present and future mythologies. 

Yilmaz has exhibited her work at numerous venues including Museum Arnhem (2022); Bureau Postjesweg, Amsterdam (2021); the 16th Istanbul Biennial (2019); W139, Amsterdam (2021); De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam (2021); NEST, The Hague (2020); De APPEL, Amsterdam (2018); PERFORMATIK17, Brussels (2017); MUHKA, Antwerp (2017); and the 11th Shanghai Biennial (2016).

Open Archive

Residents & Alumni Activities


Browse through the full archive of our alumni.