International Art on the Island of Leros

The Listening Wall, Leros, Courtesy of Perasma, photo credit: Yigorgos Mavropoulos

Perasma will present All Things Become Islands Before My Senses, a group exhibition of site-specific installations in dialogue with historic venues across the Aegean island of Leros this summer. Opening from 30th June – 18th August 2024, the exhibition will feature a mixture of new and existing works by more than 17 international artists including William Kentridge, Goshka Macuga, Cevdet Erek, Maryam Turkey and Lindsey Mendick, installed across six significant locations on the island.

The exhibition will explore the intricate relationship between time, water, and the history of the island of Leros. It will revolve around the idea of how the fluidity of existence can give rise to both beauty and adversity, especially on an island with such a complex and rich history. The cyclical nature of time on Leros is intertwined with its maritime heritage. As ships come and go, carrying with them stories of trade, exploration, and conquest, the island becomes a nexus where past and present intersect. History, mythology, fantasy, ghosts and reality, overlay themselves upon the island like the currents of its waters.


Nestled in the Dodecanese Islands very close to Turkey’s mainland, the island bears the marks of a diverse and sometimes turbulent history, including decades of Italian occupation, which shaped the island’s distinctive architecture. Leros’s architectural landscape, characterised by urban neoclassicism and early Italian modernism in tandem with the archaic tradition and nature of the island, becomes the setting for All Things Become Islands Before My Senses. Artworks will be installed across six key locations including:

• The Cinema Roma and The Elementary School, iconic Rationalist buildings completed in the 1930s as part of the new city development of Portolago whilst the island was under Italian occupation.
• The Muro d’Ascolto, or the ‘listening wall’, an architecturally iconic structure on Mount Patella is an analogue radar which was built with the purpose to detect and locate approaching enemy aircraft utilising acoustic waves.
• The Old Barracks of Xerokampos, abandoned from the island’s former Italian and German occupation, featuring an unexpected series of frescoes, such as copies of ‘Brueghel The Elder’ painted by its former occupiers.
• The Leros Nautical Club, an important island institution established in 1979 inside a renovated ammunition storage building at Koulouki Bay.
• The Perasma Space, a dedicated Perasma exhibition space, located in a neoclassical mansion built in 1886, in Agia Marina.

Other Eden, 2023, by Necla Rüzgar, courtesy of Perasma

The exhibition will feature both new and existing artworks, which will be installed and adapted by the artists in response to the historic context in which they are on view. Key works on show include William Kentridge’s film Shadow Procession (1999), on view at the Old Barracks of Xerokampos, which was first unveiled at the 1999 Istanbul Biennial. The artist is known for his animated drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics, and Shadow Procession represents Kentridge’s early experimentation with stop-motion animation.

Polish artist Goshka Macuga, who is known for her sculptures, tapestries, and collages, will present a new film created on the island. The experimental horror film, which will be on show for the first time in All Things Become Islands Before My Senses, marks the first time the artist has worked with the medium of film. Collaborating closely with the island’s community, the work will feature actors from a local theatre group.
Turkish artist Cevdet Erek will present three new works; a site-specific installation and performance at the Muro D’Ascolto, a site-specific installation of his SSS – Shore Scene Soundtrack project at the Elementary School as well as a sound installation featuring blown glass sculptures shaped like goat bells sourced from Leros presented at the Perasma Space. Erek is known for combining sound, rhythm and architecture to create installations and performances characterised by site specificity.


Turkish artist Cansu Yıldıran and Iraqi-American artist Maryam Turkey will be participating in residencies on the island to create new works for the exhibition. Yıldıran will be creating a new photographic series on the island, whilst Turkey will be creating a new series of light sculptures and a site-specific installation using found objects from Leros.

Backstage of Goshka Macuga’s experimental film on Leros – Crithoni’s Paradise Hotel, Photo by Yiorgos Mavropoulos courtesy of Perasma

Polish artist Paweł Althamer will host a project transforming the Leros Nautical Club into a month-long Art Academy for children from immigrant communities on the island, hosting workshops alongside internationally renowned professors. Additionally, Althamer will present a series of sculptures at various locations across Leros as part of the exhibition.

Further exhibition highlights include a showcase of monoprints and canvas paintings by Margate-based British artist Laura Footes; a series of paintings by German artist Sophie von Hellerman; a site-specific installation using found materials from the shipyard on Leros by Greek sculptor Kostis Velonis; and a presentation of sculptures by Enzo Cucchi from his Testa di Van Gogh (1995) series.

Alinda, Leros, The projection of a tree, 2024 by Cansu Yildiran, courtesy of Perasma

Through its work on the exhibition and residency on the island, Perasma works closely with the local community collaborating with organisations such as the Artemis Cultural and Educational Association and the Caserma of Herbs and its Social Cooperative. The exhibition is the second edition of The Leros Project, which was launched in 2023 by Perasma in collaboration with Galerist, with the exhibition Time is a Child. The exhibition explored the concept of time, and featured works by artists such as Martin Creed, Alice Guittard and Maria Joannou, amongst others.

Participating Artists

Alice Guittard, Cansu Yıldıran, Cevdet Erek, Enzo Cucchi,Evgenia Vereli, Farida El Gazzar, Goshka Macuga, Kostis Velonis, Laura Footes,
Lindsey Mendick, Malvina Panagiotidi, Maryam Turkey, Necla Rüzgar, Nermı̇n Er, Paweł Althamer, Sophie von Hellermann, William Kentridge

Instagram: @perasmaistanbul 

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