Yeşim Ağaoğlu (born January 21, 1966 in Istanbul, Turkey) is a multidisciplinary artist and a poet who works with various mediums, especially concentrating on installation, photography and video. Her family comes from the city of Shusha in the Karabagh region of Azerbaijan. The most important thing for her in art is being interactive. She works on poetry (language) and art relationships, gender and feminism issues, architectural elements and political subjects. Since 1995 Agaoglu has produced nine poetry books that have made her famous as a women poet in the literature scene of Turkey.
Life and career
Yeşim Ağaoğlu was born in Istanbul on January 21, 1966. She studied at the University Of Istanbul, Department Of Archaeology and Art History. She has a master of arts degree from the University Of Istanbul, Faculty Of Communications, Department of Radio-TV-Cinema. She attended part-time film lessons using a Super 8 mm film camera at the New York School of Visual Arts; these lessons has resulted in a short film called “Loneliness, Machines And Meditation”.
Her poems have been published in literary journals since the age of 18. She has seven poetry books that have been published in Turkey and two poetry books published in Azerbaijan. Ağaoğlu’s poems have been translated into many languages, such as Azeri, Russian, English, Italian, and Spanish. She is a member of the International PEN and also a board member of BESAM (Creators of Scientific and Literary Works Association). Since 2012 she has been an Honored Member of PEN Union of Azerbaijani Writers.
Yeşim Ağaoğlu has been continuing contemporary art activities combining different disciplines since 1996. She has had four solo exhibitions in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Norway. Ağaoğlu has participated in a number of exhibitions in countries like Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan, Korea, Brasil, Mongolia, and the USA. Since 2012 she has been an Honored Member of Union of Artists of Azerbaijan.
Yeşim Ağaoğlu has concentrated on art making with performance, visual material and objects. At the beginning her poems, written on yellow paper with a conventional typewriter, occupied the center of these works. The yellow pages are a basic material and modest element of communication with the people, but when they are arranged in huge geometrical heaps in the exhibition spaces they also become a Fluxus installation. Her presence in the exhibition space is considered as performance, even if she does not make a performance in the sense that she is directly involved in the process of the artwork, but her continuous blending into the viewers’ attendance gives the impression of a performance. Her approach to art-making is minimalist and modest. Avoiding popularity and sophistication she describes her works as “technically simple but conceptually rich.”
As a photographer, Ağaoğlu journeys into the city’s simple and elaborate images, focusing on hybrid architecture, human diversity, gender differentiations and well-hidden ideological symbols and manifestations.
Being highly sensitive to the socio-political environment of her region, it is a necessity for her to convey her messages through particular strategies in art making; and, every time she invents new ones. She is decidedly doing well in fulfilling the prerequisites of approaching the distant public of contemporary art.
- 2012 — Center of Contemporary Art, Baku, Azerbaijan 
- 2010 — Tou Scene Art Centre, Stavanger, Norway 
- 2009 — Turkish Culture Center, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- 2008 — Caucasian House,Tibilisi,Georgia
- 2008 — Yeni Gallery, Baku, Azerbaijan.
- 2014 — “Small is Beautiful”, Kuad Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
- 2014 — “Deprivation”, Gallery Arsenal, Bialystok, Poland
- 2014 — “Re-Museum” International Contemporary Art Exhibition, National Gallery, Tbilisi, Georgia
- 2014 — The Warnth of a Patchwork Quilt, 8th Alanica, NCCA, Vladikavkaz, Ossetia, Russia
- 2013 — Black Sea Calling, Hilger BROT Kunsthalle, Vienna, Austria
- 2013 — Discarted, Hayaka Art gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
- 2012 — Out of Place, Corpo 6 Gallery, Berlin, Germany
- 2012 — Fictions and Dissentions, 3rd Canakkale Biennale, Turkey
- 2012 — Critical Art Ensemble, Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany
- 2011 — Artist in Residency, Almeria, Spain
- 2011 — Turkish Human Rights Association 20th Year exhibition, Tutun Deposu, Istanbul, Turkey
- 2011 — “Collective Privacy”, C.A.M Galery, Istanbul, Turkey.
- 2010 — “OPENLY” International Women Video art exhibition  in frame of “Istanbul 2010- Capital of Culture of Europe”, Antrepo5, Sanat Limani, Istanbul, Turkey
- 2010 — “USSR-remix”, group exhibition, Art Centre Tou Scene, Stavanger, Norway
- 2010 — MONGOLIA 360’ Land Art Biennale, Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar
- 2009 — “Istanbul off Independent Art Space Exhibition&Forum”, Bethanien, Berlin, Germany.
- 2009 — “Istanbul next wave”, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany.
- 2009 — “Dirty Story”, Group exhibition, BM Suma Contemporary Art Centre, Istanbul,Turkey.
- 2008 — “Reasonable”, Hafriyat, Istanbul, Turkey.
- 2008 — “7848 km Korean-Turkish Exchange Exhibition”,Inchon, Korea.
- 2008 — “Immagino” Workshop, Genova, Italy.
- 2008 — “Artisterium” 1st Tbilisi International Contemporary Art Exhibition and Art Events, Karvasla Tbilisi History Museum, Georgia
- 2008 — “Steps of Time” Modern and Contemporary Azerbaijan Art, Dresden State Museum of Art, Germany
- 2007 — 3d International Biennial of Contemporary Art “Aluminium”, Shirvanshakh’s Palace, Baku, Azerbaijan
- 2006 — “Rejection Episodes Exhibition”, Istanbul Express Festival in Vooruit Culture and Art Center Gent, Belgium.
- 2006 — “Caravansarai” International Festival, Heartgallery, Paris, France.
- 2005 — Tashkent Biennale, Uzbekistan.
- 2004 — “Field of Vision”, Gallery Lab, New York, USA.
- 2004 — “Turkish Delight”, Video Art Show, Rio Modern Art Museum, Brazil.
- 2002 — “Sheshow”, ATA Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia, Bulgaria.
Since 1995, Yeşim Agaoğlu has produced nine poetry books. The emphasis in her poems is on exploration of the most obscure dreams, desires, and intentions of the soul and the unpredictable relations between individuals; however, in between the layers of poetic descriptions she allows the reader to pass through a socio-political terrain that reflects her critical approach to the order of things. She discloses this complexity in a surrealist mode intertwined with an exhilarating openness of subject and form. Her imaginative qualities also owe much to her education in archeology and cinema.
“yanlışlar şehrinde randevu” (“rendezvous in the mistaken city” (October 1995) Liman publications, İstanbul.
“hırsızlama aşklar, gri yalnızlıklar” (“love stolen, loneliness grey” (November 1996)) Liman publications, İstanbul.
“portakal tek meyve değildir” (“orange is not the only fruit ” (March 1997)) Liman publications, İstanbul.
“başka gezegenin insanları” (“people of another planet” (March 1997)) Liman publications, İstanbul.
“new york blues” (“new york blues” (March 1997))Liman publications, İstanbul.
“özlem şehirleri” (“missing cities” (2006)) Free Writers Society publications, Baku, Azerbaijan.
“eflatun sır” (“purple secret” (March 2007)) Yitik Ülke publications, Istanbul.
“güllerin ağırlığı” (“heaviness of the roses” ( 2007)) By the support of Azerbaijan and Turkish Ministry of Culture, published in Russian and Turkish, Baku, Azerbaijan
“sana şiir yazmasam olur mu” (“you dont mind if i dont write poems to you”(2011) Yitik Ülke publications, Istanbul)
Selected festivals and literature events
- 2015 — “Poetica I”, Festival für Weltliteratur 26.–31.1.2015 – Köln
- 2013 — “4th Ordu International Literature Festival” (Literature and Cinema Relations), Ordu, Turkey
- 2013 — “5th International Azerbaijan Poet’s day” (getting prize, by the honour of Azerbaijani poet Mikail Müşvik), Baku, Azerbaijan.
- 2013 — “Turkey PEN Club World Poetry Day”, organised by French Cultural Center, Istanbul.
- 2012 — “15 th of November Writers In The Banishment Day”,Turkey PEN international event participant, (With participation of International PEN Club President), Istanbul.
- 2012 — “Poetry Book Signing Day”, TUYAP Book Fair, Istanbul.
- 2012 — “Spring poetry rain”, 26 May, Cyprus.
- 2012 — “Special guest of poetry talk, poetry reading and receiving Azerbaycan PEN Writes’ Club Honorary Membership”, Azerbaijan Writers Union, Baku, Azerbaijan.
- 2012 — “Guest poet and poetry reading for connection of poetry and theater talk”, Turkish PEN Writers’ Club event, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Literature Museum, Istanbul, Turkey.
- 2011 — 3d Sadho International Poetry Film Festival, New Delhi, India
- 2011 — 10th Sarajevo International Poetry Festival
- 2011 — Krytia International Poetry Festival, Nagpur, India
- 2010 — 49th Struga International Poetry Festival, Macedonia
- 2010 — Solo Poetry Reading, Archaeological Museum, Stavanger, Norway
- 1999 — 6th International Mediterranean Poets Meeting, Bodrum (Halicarnassus), Turkey
- 1998 — Darul Ihsan University, Chief guest in residency, World 1st Poetry Day celebration, Dhaka, Bangladesh
- 1998 — Residency in International Writers and Translators House, Rodos Island, Greece Residency in International Writers and Translators House, Rodos Island, Greece
References and notes
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s art blog
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s poetry blog
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s profile on PEN International
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s “i can do it too” solo exhibition catalog in PDF
- I’m Not There: New Art from Asia Gwangju Biennale Foundation, 2010 ISBN 978-89-87719-11-5
- Note about exhibition at Center’s of Contemporary Art website
- Note about exhibition at virtualwallworld
- Link on promo video of “OPENLY” exhibition
- Official web page of forum at berlinerpool.de
- Catalog of exhibition “Istanbul Next Wave” ISBN 978-3-86521-978-7
- “eflatun sır” Yitik Ülke publications, Istanbul ISBN 978-9944-493-14-7
- “sana şiir yazmasam olur mu” (2011) Yitik Ülke publications, Istanbul ISBN 978-9944-362-26-9
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s poetry reading on Krytia-2011 festival
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s poetry CV
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s art blog
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s poetry blog
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s profile on Saatchi
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s profile on berlinerpool
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s profile on artist.de
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s profile on Global Village 2012
- Yeşim Ağaoğlu’s profile on mediterranean poetry