The art historian and curator Lora Sariaslan is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Amsterdam with her dissertation Pins on the Map: Urban Mappings in European-Turkish Contemporary Art. Her academic focus is on contemporary visual artists (with roots in Turkey), mapping the urban, and migration through its role within identity politics and multiple belongings.
In reflecting on how maps and mapping can serve as sources and inspiration for contemporary art, her research examines a group of European-Turkish/Turkish-European artists from a range of aesthetic and cultural perspectives. It unearths and locates how these artists, who work in a variety of media, have engaged maps and other forms of cartographic practice. The reflections presented have been shaped by these artists’ multiple belongings, their creative mappings of the city, and their attempts to develop a new map that revolves around the hyphen in European-Turkishness/Turkish-Europeanness. Going beyond the passports of the artists in focus, the European-Turkishness/Turkish-Europeanness compound aims to capture the agency of the hyphenated identities, which characterizes both their biographies and their art. As the hyphen joins two words into one, it turns the resulting word into a new entity, enabling a space of multiple possibilities. Working with this multifocal tool allows developing novel ways of thinking and writing about art’s hyphenated, transnational, and many-centered contemporary histories. By turning to works that have not previously been analyzed through the lens of artistic mappings, the dissertation aims to provide a new methodology for studying intersections between mapping and contemporary art that challenges our ideas about what a map is and can do, transforming art into maps and maps into art.
Lora Sariaslan received her B.A. in Art History and Integrated International Studies from Knox College, Illinois, and her M.A. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin.
She was assistant curator at the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas (2001-2005) and curator at Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (2005-2011). She has curated/co-curated exhibitions internationally, among others, was the curator of the 2nd Mardin Biennial: Double Take in Turkey (2012), This yearning is ours! at the Center of Contemporary Art in Torun, Poland (2016) and What We Forget at Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam (2019).
A member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), Sariaslan is the National Correspondent for the European Museum Forum (EMF) for Turkey.