Sukran Moral /   Sükran Moral

Turkey 1962

Installation, Performance Art

Sukran Moral
Sükran Moral
January 30, 2017
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Known for her works that question tradition, taboos, hierarchical structures and historical frameworks, Sükran Moral is a Turkish contemporary artist. Arguably, she is widely acclaimed as a performing artist but is also quite prolific working in installations, capturing photographs, making videos, and even painting in watercolor. Often showing the body, mostly her own, Moral is working hard in order to liberate it from the cocoon of outdated political attitudes and actions. From Female Jesus to the Vagina that bleeds and spreads with the scarlet color of menstruation and virginity, Moral’s whole biography (or bio-politics) confronts what she feels is wrong. This type of artistic approach has earned her the title of one of Turkey’s most fearless female voices.

Sukran Moral bordello arts video work from 1997 shown at turkish english gallery in Istanbul
Sukran Moral – Kurdish trans, 2015

Early Life and Education

Born in Terme, Samsun, Moral grew up in a conservative family with three brothers and a sister. In fact, her family, her father especially, were so conservative, that they didn’t want her to continue her education and attend university. This attitude only made her resolve stronger and made her more determinate. “I had started reading all the great classics at the age of eleven, and by the time I was eighteen I had read everything from the Russian greats to the Italian masters like Dante and Petrarch. That was the beginning of my education, but I wanted it to continue.”[1] After finishing university in Turkey, she moved to Rome in order to continue her studies. It was a life-changing decision. As she admitted: “I came there as a zero, as a nobody, and had to find my place and a direction for my life. I was greatly inspired by the Italian Renaissance artists like Caravaggio, but also modern artists like Gina Pane and Frida Kahlo. I am very inspired by neo-realism, both the cinematic one of Pasolini and the literary one of Dostoyevsky.”

Moving to Italy proved to be crucial

Sukran Moral 1997 istanbul despair video was written about in spiegel and shown in museum
Sukran Moral – Marriage with three men, 2010

The Art of Sükran Moral

Since the early 90s, Moral has been making a name for herself through powerful installations and performances that refuses any sort of compromise, leading to her becoming one of the most prominent figures on the European art scene. And one of the most disputed ones, as well. Her bold statements have also led to numerous death threats against her in her homeland. She emphasizes the weak in a society, showing graphically how individuals are being discriminated against and abused by others. The marginalized groups living on the very edge of the society, such as mentally ill, refugees, transsexuals, and prostitutes are some of her main themes. However, it seems that the most repeated topic in Morel’s art is, without a doubt, the violence against the women. All the customs and various taboos dictating where and how the women can act are simply shattered by her provoking and direct performances – an impact which makes her entire oeuvre so original and intense. There’s no doubt – the voice of Sükran Moral is one of the most politically powerful in the contemporary art.

Her work breaks taboos

Sukran Moral work was displayed in museum
Sukran Moral – Child Bride, 2014

Breaking the Boundaries of Contemporary Art Can Be Dangerous

As an internationally acclaimed Turkish artist who has visited and worked in many countries, Moral is aware that no so many people in those countries are aware of the complex socio-political situation in Turkey. These people are not so interested in human rights and observe the country as a tourism destination with nice beaches and cheap alcohol. “It’s sad to hear a country like Turkey reduced to prejudices like this, but I’m afraid I am not too surprised either. The truth is that our current democracy is not a very functional one, and we have ourselves to blame for not showing the world a better side of ourselves. The current government restricts the right to free expression, but here are many of us fighting for a better future, and I fight through my art.”[2] And it is this fight – more specifically, all of her photographs, sculptures, videos or performances, that has put her very existence in danger. Having realized there are many who would wish her harm, Moral admits she’s always afraid, saying: “You never know what’ll happen. You can’t live with this shitty fear.”[3] However, she refuses to give in to the fear, choosing instead to continue making art, hoping she will be among those that have the ability to inspire and bring the change.

Sükran Moral lives and works between Rome and Istanbul.


  1. Lundberg D., An outsider’s pain, Studvest [January 27, 2017]
  2. Ibidem
  3. Ward J., Sükran Moral Tests the Boundaries of Contemporary Art, Spiegel Online [January 27, 2017]

Featured image: Sukran Moral – portrait – photo credits Kjersti Kræmmer, via
All other image courtesy of Zilberman Gallery

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Shape of Time – Future of NostalgiaMNAC – The National Museum of Contemporary Art, BucharestGroup
2015My Pain My RebellionKODE, Bergen, NorwaySolo
2015All Men Become SistersMuzeum Sztuki, Lodzi, PolandGroup
2014Solo presentationParis Photo, Paris, FranceSolo
2014Welcome to TurkeyGaleri Zilberman, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2014B(r)yzanzEdith Russ Haus, Oldenburg, GermanySolo
2014Queensize: Female Artists from the Olbricht CollectionOlbricht Foundation, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2014Fragile Sense of HopeArt Collection Telekom, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2014Call Me on SundayKrinzinger Projekte, Vienna, Austria Group
2014WoWmen! FestivalKaaitheather, Brussels, Belgium Group
2014Autonomous and BeautifulAksanat, IstanbulGroup
2013Despair & Metanoia with VALIE EXPORTGaleri Zilberman, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2013UnknownMinsheng Museum, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2013Three Turkish Video Artists: Nezahat Ekici, Gulsun Karamustafa, Sukran MoralCuratorial Research Laboratory, Winckelman Gallery, New York, NY, USAGroup
2013Rapid Pulse International Performance FestivalChicago, IL, USA Group
2013Ritratto di una citta 2: Arte a Roma 1960-2001MACRO, Rome, ItalyGroup
2013Hetero Q.B.National Museum of Contemporary Arts, Lisbon, Portugal Group
2013Past and PresentIstanbul Modern Museum, TurkeyGroup
2012Light From The Middle East: New PhotographyVictoria & Albert Museum, London, UKGroup
2012In Which Language Shall I Tell My Story...Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGroup
2012Desire, Sex&Lust, Sexuality in ContemporaryBergen Art Museum, NorwayGroup
2010AMEMUSGaleri Zilberman, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2010Past, Present, FutureYapı Kredi Culture Center, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2010ContraviolenciasKM Center, San Sebastian, SpainGroup
2009Love and ViolenceYapı Kredi Kazım TaSkent Art Gallery, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2009Love and ViolenceYapı Kredi Culture Center, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2009PainMacka Art Gallery, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2009New Acquisitions and Highlights21C Museum, Kentucky, USAGroup
2007Peace... Fucking Fairy TaleGalleria BND, Milan, ItalySolo
2007The True Story of a Turkish GirlEx Siri- Contemporary Art Center, Terni, ItalySolo
2007The Adulteress51st Venice Biennial, Venice, ItalySolo
2007Jesus & MuhammadPlacentia Arte, Piacenza, ItalyGroup
2007Underground IstanbulThe Lab Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2007Peace...Fucking Fairytale!Galleria BND, Milan, ItalyGroup
2007ZinaArsenale, Venice, ItalyGroup
2007Beyond the Modern Santralistanbul, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2005Leyla and MecnunPalermo, ItalySolo
2005BrothelElgiz Contemporary Art Museum, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
2005BrothelProje 4L Elgiz Museum, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2004NightingaleIILA Instituto Italo Latin Americano, Rome, ItalySolo
2004ApocalypseMLAC Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Rome, ItalyGroup
2003The AdulteressFondazione Baruchello, Rome, ItalySolo
2003AdulteressFondazione Barucchello, Rome, ItalyGroup
2001HamamindiaTeatro India, Rome, ItalySolo
1999PainGalleria Murazzi, Turin, ItalySolo
1998TransistanbulCihangir, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1998Hamam, World Video FestivalStedeljick Museum, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGroup
1997BordelloYuksek Kaldırım, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1997Speculum&ObitorioMLAC - Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Rome, ItalySolo
1997Mental HospitalBakırkoy, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1997HamamGalatasaray, Istanbul, TurkeySolo
1997Speculum & Istanbul5th International Biennial of Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
1996SpeculumStudio Oggetto, Milan, ItalySolo
1996HybernatedGalleria Neon, Bologna, ItalySolo
1994Married with ThreeArtist’s studio, Rome, ItalySolo
1994AmbiguitasCasa d’Arte Austriaca, Rome, ItalySolo