When the Orient Express stopped serving the route between Paris and Istanbul in 1977, one of the main traveling routes of the labour migration in Europe was shut down. Nil Yalter, born 1938 in Cairo, grown up in Istanbul and living in Paris since 1965, took one of the last trains from the Paris train station Gare de Lyon to Istanbul. “Orient Express” (1976) originated during this train ride. This multipart installation consists of a 16 mm film, drawings, polaroids and photographs and oscillates with artistic sensibility and scientific precision between documentation and fiction. Inspired by poetry, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and ethnology, in Nil Yalter’s works constructed memories appear as spaces of immigration, exile, displacement, interfusion and interaction of “culture”, the status of this is subjected to examination.
Throughout her artistic career Nil Yalter has fragmented, questioned and reoriented our handed-down heritage - culture, history, language, tradition, identity. Her courageous and visionary approach places her among the pioneers of sociological and ethno-critical aesthetic practices.
In 1975 she found her inspiration in everyday life in the male dominated enviroment of Neuenkirchen (D), that she had to redefine through her female perspective: “(...) then i wanted to watch the preparation for the village fair, its origin can be traced back to 1844. on june 28 the festival started – on june 27 happens the “commerz”, a male evening, how i was told, the distinctions were granted. on june 30 it ended with a formal dance ..... a king is elected ... he selects his queen ..... i will not be there any more .....”.