According to ArtReview the Kurdish artist is one of the one hundred most influential people in 2020 in the contemporary artworld.
The "Power 100" list is a yearly effort by ArtReview, one of the world’s leading international contemporary art magazines, dedicated to expanding contemporary art’s audience and reach, with the aim of tracking down the forces that shape art in the contemporary moment. It’s neither about building egos or backslapping, nor is it a manifesto. Its primary function is to track who or what is influencing the art that’s being made today. A snapshot, if you like, that seeks to highlight what’s going on in the artworld and who is providing it with impetus. Part science, part instinct, it operates according to the following criteria: are the individuals on the list influencing the kind of art that’s being produced and being made visible (invariably not the same thing)? To what extent does their influence extend beyond the local to the global? And how active have they been in demonstrating their influence over the past 12 months?
Zehra Doğan is an award-winning journalist and artist (although the distinction is increasingly moot here). Doğan has often been as active politically (among which founding and editing Jinha, a Kurdish feminist newspaper closed by the Turkish authorities in 2016) as in her artmaking.
Doğan has served time in prisons in Mardin, Tarsus and Diyarbakır at various points between 2016 and 2019 (most recently a sentence of two years and nine months for sharing a watercolour depicting the destruction of Nusaybin by Turkish state forces on social media).
Now, however, her graphic novels, sculpture and drawing, much of which was made while languishing as a political prisoner and snuck out in a variety of guileful ways, received a solo show in Istanbul, under the noses of her state persecutors in Turkey, while a graphic novel, Xêzên Dizî (The Hidden Drawings, 2018–20), depicting the histories of the Kurdish struggle, the horrors of prison life and the stories of fellow inmates, was a star turn at the Berlin Biennale.
In November she won the Carol Rama Award.