Publication Details

Exile Is a Hard Job: Walls
Exhibition catalogue
192 pages, 129 visuals
27 x 21 cm
Sponsored by Marta Herford Museum, Saha Association, Sharjah Art Foundation, Kemal Servi, Arter, Galerist, Museum Ludwig and Istanbul Modern
ISBN 978-3753-30-619-3


This exhibition catalogue provides a comprehensive archive of Nil Yalter’s guerrilla poster project, realised over 12 years in 19 cities around the world. In each rendition of Exile Is a Hard Job: Walls, Yalter recreates large-scale posters of black and white photographs and drawings of a blue-collar worker’s family. She posts them on selected walls of the various cities and adds the words ‘EXILE IS A HARD JOB’, taken from Nazım Hikmet’s poem ‘from Sofia’ (1957). First installed in Spain, the posters display the native language of the city where they are located as well as the predominant spoken languages of the immigrants. These actions take Yalter’s artistic practice outside the confines of art institutions and give visibility to the daily struggles of immigrants.

This catalogue includes photographs documenting the hanging, distribution, exhibition, wear and tear, transformation and disintegration processes of the posters, alongside an introductory text by Yalter and an essay on the project by academic and curator Övül Durmuşoğlu. For Sharjah Biennial 15, Yalter recreated the work in Al Mureijah, Al Shuwaiheen and Al Jubail Old Vegetable Market, all in the heritage area of Sharjah, and painted the phrase ‘EXILE IS A HARD JOB’ in Malayalam, Urdu, Tagalog, English and Arabic. The Sharjah iteration is included in this publication, published with a text by Sharjah Art Foundation director Hoor Al Qasimi, who details the process.

Released in Venice in April 2024, the publication coincided with the opening of Yalter’s presentation at the main pavilion of the 60th Venice Biennial, where she received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.