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Here is Ulay with Pierre Bal Blanc ft. Nilbar Güreş et al.
Organized by de Appel at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, as part of Ulay was Here. March 2021.

Le Salon Turc


The term 'Le Salon Turc' (The Turkish Salon) historically refers to the decorative style 'Turquerie', that precedes the Orientalism style. Turquerie was the style chosen for a room designed for Marie-Antoinette in the castle of Fontainebleau.


Ulay's Irritation: There is a Criminal Touch to Art, changed the exhibition context of an artwork – the Biedermeier-style painting The Poor Poet, 1839 by Carl Spitzweg – from public institution to the domestic sphere. The artist borrowed the painting without permission from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin on 12 December, 1976 and transported it to an apartment in the district of Kreuzberg, inhabited by a family of Turkish 'Gastarbeiter' (guest workers).


Nilbar Güreş' Under the Skin (2019) is a scrulpture made from the verbal expression 'Bir yastıkta kocasınlar' (May they grow old on a pillow) invoking an ornamental cushion intended to receive the united body of the young married couple. The artist renews this principle but blurs the genders in her genre-bending cushion-sculpture, defying all rigid heterosexual and patriarchal structures of the home.

The artist's work often refers to the domestic sphere and close family relationships in Turkey where she was born in 1977 an in Austria, where she travelled to study, first staying with her uncle, a Gastarbeiter or 'guest worker' in Salzburg. Her and her family's homes would be very familiar to the Turkish couple whose living room in Kreuzberg Berlin becomes a new context for the painting Ulay steals in his 1976 action.

Under the Skin.jpg

Under the Skin (2019)

Jean Brusselmans' 1937 painting Dame au canapé is the only painting associated with the Biedermeier style in the Stedeljik Museum's collection database. The Biedermeier style was a cultural movement encompassing visual arts, literature, music and decoration, patronized by political conservatives during the post-Napoleonic era. The living room took on a sudden importance, as an entire generation of defeated people sought refuge from pessimism and disenchantment within an idyllic, healthy, simple life centered around the family cocoon. Here, Brusselmans' painting of the 1930s displaces Spitzweg's painting of the 1830s as displaced to the Turkish family's living room by Ulay.


Orientalism is the East created by the West according to Edward W. Said. It is an inverted projection, a scholarly discourse that becomes an imperial institution: 'Orientalism has played a great role in this transition that leads, strictly speaking, to the world upside down.' The tradition of musical pastiche embodied by excerpts from Camille Saint-Saëns' 1886 orchestral suite Le Carnaval des Animaux may imply a critical stance towards Orientalism. Nevertheless, the colonial legacy of the Third French Republic, which lasted from the collapse of the Second French Empire in 1870 renders this critical orientation paradoxical.

The score for 'Le Salon Turc' multiplies the angles of approach over reversal of values present in artistic, curatorial, and musical practices. These visual strategies sometimes make use of appropriation, pastiche, caricature, and parody, with a view to constructing a 'we' on the back of a fantasized 'other.'

But these tactics are also often adjusted to a conception of the individual based on recognition of an attention to ('autrui in French) a real other figure.

Le Salon Turc (2021)

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