The Picture Before the Picture

The Picture Before the Picture (2019-2023)
Ink-jet print on mesh vinyl 850 × 1191 cm

The Picture Before the Picture refers to colors that appear as placeholders under the ‘Images’ tab of the Google search engine before the final image is fully loaded. The first iteration of this work was based on the searches the duo made using this feature during the European Parliament elections in 2019. The artists kept adding search words suggested by Google to their search tab and applied the resulting colors on the walls of the exhibition space with paint. The colors used in the installation made for the façade of İmalat-hane in Bursa are derived from the results of screenshots of Google searches made between the first and second rounds of the 2023 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Using VPN to perform searches based out of Turkey, the artists selected a certain sequence of suggested search words. These pictures before pictures represent an abstraction of the news items that shape the agenda at a specific time and in a given location. For instance, when the duo entered “Twitter” into Google Images, titles such as “bandwidth throttling,” “access blocking,” and “The Information and Communication Technologies Authority” were suggested by the algorithm, painting a picture of that particular moment through the most frequently used search terms.

The fact that these abstract and angular images, the colors of which are determined by the dominant hues of the partially downloaded pictures reach us before the intended data, reflects our once-removed relationship with data itself. Thus, the viewers find themselves looking at a picture that records the distance between the written content and the image. This digital surface with which we, as web users, are all too familiar points to an image regime that obscures the reality and the influence of web design strategies on users. Sterilizing our interaction with data –ignoring its content, scientific credibility, political bias, or brutality– the colors transform into a spectacle of pacifying abstractions, referring to the increasing data flow, information pollution, fake news, and censorship. Covering the façade of the exhibition space, the installation builds a layer that also becomes a threshold between the inside and outside of the exhibition space. While preventing us from seeing the “big picture,” this picture before the picture also refers to the historical discussions around the relationship between institutional frameworks and art, serving as an interface that casts the shades of its colors on the exhibition.

Text: Duygu Demir

Installation view; IMALAT-HANE, Bursa

Photo: ©IMALAT-HANE, Bursa

Neither Up nor Down

Neither Up nor Down (2019-2023)
paint on polyester, 262×225 cm

The project consists of a 1:1 scale model of a cross-section of the staircase that once led to the world’s tallest flagpole on a 3-hectare pedestal-like square in Baku, and takes a humorous look at the race to be the world’s tallest.

From 1982 to 2010, Kaesong, North Korea, held the record for the tallest flagpole at 160 m. Baku, Azerbaijan, took the record in 2010 with a height of 162 m, but lost it less than a year later to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with a 165 m flagpole. In 2014, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, took the record with a 171-meter flagpole, and in September 2021, construction began on a new 191-meter flagpole in Baku to reclaim the world record. While scheduled for completion in 2022, a 202-meter flagpole was erected in Cairo, Egypt, in late 2021. Since then, the construction of the new flagpole in Azerbaijan has not been completed (July 2023).

The project focuses on the staircase leading to the unfinished flagpole in Baku.

Stairs, like flagpoles, have the main function of moving (things) up or down. With the flagpole as a representation of power, these stairs create a vertical, almost sacred path to that power. They bring people to the base of the giant flagpole. But the closer you get to the pole, the smaller you become with each step.

“Neither Up nor Down” disrupts the way power is represented through verticality by shifting the perspective to the horizontal. With a 1:1 scale model of the staircase parallel to the ground, this staircase is shown as dysfunctional; one can neither go up nor down, separating it from a path to power.

Photo: Nazli Erdemirel

Installation view; Summerfestival at Kulturakademie Tarabya, Istanbul

National Flag Square, Baku (2022) in a new tab)

Not Yet a Still Life (Europe)

Not Yet a Still Life (Europe), 2021-2023
Oil on canvas
95,5 × 123,5 cm

For their work Not Yet a Still Life(Europe) (2021 – 2023), the artists commissioned a painter to create an oil painting of a bouquet of thirty different plant species that are on the ‘red list’ of highly endangered plant species in Europe, a list that is published at regular intervals by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The plants depicted form an arrangement that would not be possible in this form in reality, because it shows the endangered species deviating from their true sizes and in a state of flowering, which would normally never occur at the same time. As fictitious as the perfect arrangement may therefore appear, the fact that a simultaneous flowering of the plants can be seen, while there are also fallen leaves lying next to the vase, indicates a real and acute necessity of their reproduction and. preservation. Though the classical still life paintings (French: nature morte) of the seventeenth century primarily depict dead objects, Günyol and Kunt employ the traditional art historical image genre to draw attention to the highly threatened existence of these plant species as well as the current and catastrophic consequences of climate change and the loss of biodiversity. The decorative and aesthetic bouquet thus becomes a metaphor for the decline and devastation of the plants and their habitats. Christin Müller

Installation images: © Hessische Kulturstiftung, Photo: Jens Gerber

Installation view; Kunstverein zu Assenheim

The Clock

The Clock, 2022
wet painting on aluminium, anti reflex glass, electric clock movement
23 * 104 cm (diameter)

If a clock hangs on the wall, people can still read the time even if there are no lines and numbers on the dial, assuming 12 is at the top, 6 is at the bottom etc.

If, however, you put the clock on the ground, time cannot be told without the lines and the numbers. Without those, the position of the person relative to the clock on the floor determines how that person reads time, and therefore changes with every new person. Therefore, it functions consistently in its context, but the perception of time becomes blurred as there is no reference point.

A clock is set according to the time zone of the area in which it operates. It therefore contains information about the time zone and thus about geography. In this sense, every different angle we look at when reading the time from the clock lying on the ground marks a different place.

As the clock rotates in lying position, the concepts of time, space and direction gets blurred with every new person looking at it.

commissioned by
Yarat Contemporary Art Space

photos: Yarat Contemporary Art Space


Free Solo, 2019-2022
Performance / Installation
118 pieces; acrylic paint on polyurethane, magnesium powder, climbing rope, plywood

Free Solo is a climbing wall project consisting of 1:1 replicas of numerous monuments in Frankfurt, Istanbul and Çanakkale.

For the project, we first moulded the pedestals of these monuments in small pieces. Additionally, we moulded some parts of the figures on top of these pedestals that can be reached by hand. The moulds are then cast with polyurethane and painted with a special paint used for climbing holds on artificial climbing walls.

Usually, when we visit/view monuments, we look at them in their original shape, from pedestal up to the sculpture on it. Monuments can be a gathering place for celebrations and/or protests, and therefore, bring people together. During these gatherings, many people tend to climb these monuments. This desire, to climb the monument in order to rise beyond its physical presence and power in that time and space, is the starting point for the work.

Installation view; “How do we work together?” 8th Canakkale Biennial

photos 1,2,3: Saygın Mavinil

But I Kept Going

But I Kept Going, 2017-2022

Fine art print on Hahnemühle photo rag ultra smooth 305 g/m² mounted on alu-dibond

90 × 270 cm

But I kept going is an abstract panoramic sunset / horizon landscape consisting of 4768 horizontal lines, each 270 cm long, 0.1 mm thick, in 3 primary colours. The total length of the lines used to create the work represents the 8-mile distance Ameer Mehtr swam from Kuşadası (Turkey) to Samos Island (Greece) in 2015 to the EU.

The two of the three primary colours (yellow and blue) used in the work is taken from EU flag and the red is taken from Turkish flag.

Installation view; “Would you still love me if I painted parrots all day?” exhibition, Dirimart, Istanbul

photos 1,2,3,4,8: Nazlı Erdemirel

Birken iki

birken iki, 2021

Interactive installation, 28 walnut wood printing stencils in variable size and workbench 90*110*200

…The artists researching Istanbul’s flora found plants endemic to the city and focused on those that are threatened by extinction because of the mega projects taking place in the Northern Forests. They drew 28 selected plants and produced stamps of these drawings. With these stamps that will be used in a performance which will take place every day of the exhibition at certain time slots, a print will be prepared as a gift to the visitors so that the image of these plants on the verge of extinction will be reproduced and they will spread back to the city through the visitor.  Kevser Güler

Installation view; Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat, Istanbul
photos 1,2,3,4,5,6,7: Flufoto, Istanbul
8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15: Nazlı Erdemirel

List of plants:

Centaurea hermannii F.Hermann
Peygamber çiçeği

Ballota nigra L. subsp. anatolica P. H. DAVIS
Yalancı Isırgan

Allium istanbulense Özhatay, Koçyigit, Brullo & Salmeri
İstanbul soğanı

Tripleurospermum conoclinium (Boiss. & Bal.) Hayek

Lathyrus undulatus Boiss.
İstanbul nazendesi

Erysimum aznavourii Candargy
Boğaz zarifesi

Cephalaria tuteliana Kuş & Göktürk
Sultan pelemiri

Cirsium byzantinum Steud.

Isatis arenaria AZN.

Linum tauricum Willd. subsp. bosphori P.H. Davis
Boğaziçi keteni

Centaurea kilaea Boiss.

Crocus pestalozzae Boiss.
Ümraniye çiğdemi

Asperula littoralis Sm.
Kum belumotu

Colchicum micranthum Boiss.
Narin acıçiğdem

Dianthus cibrarius Clem.
Al karanfil

Onosma Proponticum Azn.
Kum Emziği – Marmara emzikotu

Crocus olivieri Gay subsp.Istanbulensis Mathew
İstanbul Çiğdemi

Verbascum degenii Hall.

Symphytum pseudobulbosum Azn.

Bupleurum pendikum Snogerup
Pendik şeytanayağı

Galanthus plicatus BIEB. subsp. byzantinus (BAKER) D. A. WEBB
İstanbul Kardeleni

Asplenium obovatum var. protobillotii Demiriz, Viane & Reichst.
Asplenium obovatum var. deltoideum Demiriz, Viane & Reichst.

Euphorbia amygdaloides subsp. robbiae (Turrill) Stace
Has Zerena, Zerena, Sütleğen

Silene sangaria Coode & Cullen
Karadeniz salkımı

Colchicum lingulatum Boiss. & Spruner

Onosma x bornmuelleri Husskn. & Bornm.
Amasya sincarı

Taraxacum aznavourii van Soest.
Has hindiba


Herself/Himself, 2021

Screen print on acrylic glass
each; 46*76 cm

“Herself/Himself” is a self-portrait project that consists of two stencil rulers which are made with the cross-sections of the artists’ bodies from top to the bottom, and it is about the experience of isolation during the pandemic.

As we are in constant communication with our surroundings, the experience of very limited interaction with others– both visual and tactile, didn’t just create a distance to the other things but as well as to the self. With limited interaction, most of the definitions of the self that are created by the relations with the surroundings got lost. Paradoxically, this happened at a time when we were by ourselves more than ever.

“Herself/Himself” is an outcome of this paradoxical situation. It attempts to reposition one’s self in new circumstances and underlines the isolation by materializing the body. This repositioning creates a space to contemplate whether the new circumstances provide a closer look or further distancing of understanding ourselves.

photos 1,15,16,17: Nazlı Erdemirel

Smell of Linden… Feels like Home




Main material of coal is plants and transformation of plants into coal takes hundreds of millions of years.

The fact that trees are one of the main constituents from which the coal originates, has been an important factor for us to choose a tree as the material of our project. Trees are life forms and unlike a coal mine (energy from below feeds the world above), they take their energy from the sun and convey it to the underground, in other words, they formally constitute a cycle, which supported our idea of a tree as the main material of the monument.

Besides, the idea that plants—giving us their beauty, fragrance, fruits—can be transformed into coal in millions of years given the right conditions, is an aspect that conceptually highlights the circular relation between the project and its installation location.


Once we decided to use a tree as the main material of the monument, the next important issue has been to select the type of tree. Linden, a member of monumental trees family, with its significant place in mythology, its historical and physical characteristics, its perseverance enabling it to live ages, highly impressed us. Another reason to choose linden has certainly been the fact that today in Germany the oldest tree is a 1200 years old linden.

With its healing qualities, beauties it exhibits, pleasant fragrance, linden has been considered as a sacred tree throughout ages by many civilizations. Thanks to its fragrant flowers and shade, it used to be the favourable tree planted on village squares of Central Europe. People used to organize festivals, set up open markets, hold wedding banquets, even trials under linden trees. On the other hand, linden tree is the symbol of home and hospitality. In short, this mighty monumental tree witnessed many incidences and meetings in its shade throughout history.


The project deals with the common story of hundreds of thousands of labourers who have been a part of Germany’s labour force since the 1960s. Away from home, in an alien geography, unknown culture and language, those labourers shared common spaces. They managed to live together, with all their differences, they shared a common ground: empathy.

In the frame of this project, we aim to gather again, symbolically, labourers who once worked in German coal industry came to work from mainly Turkey (%74), but also from former Yugoslavia, Italy, Morocco, Spain, The Netherlands, Greece, Austria, South Korea, France, Tunisia, respectively.


The project will comprise of taking linden saplings (11 saplings from 11 countries) from motherlands of tens of thousands of labourers who once worked in German mines, to the Ruhr Museum, Zeche Zollverein in Essen city of Germany and grafting them to a regional winter linden tree. Together with the German mother linden tree they will be 12; they will be intertwined, united in one body. Linden saplings, coming from different geographies, with different characteristics, living together in one body conceptually gives reference to the communal life founded in Germany. Visual and fragrant harmony created in time by twelve different linden trees, will host a shade spot where people would gather; this shade, as it did in history, will present itself to us as a space for our memories, talks, celebrations, stories.


And the path opening to the linden tree will point to one of the trajectories of many labourers from Turkey to Germany on their way to join the labour force. And the visitors, crossing the projection of this migration route, will head for the monument.


A circular bench, divided to two by the route, to be placed right under the linden tree, will invite visitors to spend some time under the tree together.


As the location of the project, we plan the green space in front of the main gate to the mine, a place that once functioned as the main entrance-exit of the labourers of the time. This location, once being the place where the labourers were welcomed, and today would welcome the museum visitors, can be considered as a “greeting” place.


Every June, flowers of the monumental tree harbouring 12 different lindens will be picked and put in packets to be designed by artists. Visitors of the Ruhr Museum, Zeche Zollverein will have a chance to enjoy the crossbred brew of this monumental tree.

Thus, flowers of the monumental tree that represent the communal life of tens of thousands of labourers who once left their homes to work in a foreign country, will enter other homes to accompany other myriads of stories.

Installation view; Ruhr Museum, Essen
photo 15: Andrea Kiesendahl, ©Ruhr Museum

The Picture Before the Picture

The Picture Before the Picture, 2019

wall painting, dimensions variable

The starting point of the wall piece “The Picture Before the Picture” (2019) is the playful surface of the digital: Colour surfaces reminiscent of screens or artistic colour studies. Behind this, as is often the case in the duo’s work, lies a threatening fact. These are abstract color images that appear as placeholders when searching for images on the Internet before the final image is loaded from the computer. Previously, Günyol & Kunt entered the word “Google” into the search mask and added another word suggested by the program. This resulted in the combination “Google+Facebook+Twitter+News+Election+Voters+Targeted+Ads+Fake News” and the abstract representation in color fields. “The Picture Before the Picture” refers to the current discussion about the inadmissible influence of fake news on elections on the Internet. At the same time, the work refers to the attractive component of digital surfaces whose strategic intentions often remain hidden and cannot be read as such by the recipient. Mathilda Legemah

Installation view; Kunstfenster im BDI
photos 2,3,4,5,6: Alexander Grennigloh