Ipek Duben use a variety of processes including painting, sculpture, installation, artist’s book, video art and sound installations. The areas and themes in which she primarily focuses span across concepts surrounding memory, identity, alienation, gender and migration.
Her interest in the outsider, the other has its early beginnings in Sherife (1981), a series of paintings representing the iconic image of an ordinary migrant woman from Anatolia in the 1970s in Turkey. Duben's interest in identity and alienation continued in Manuscript (1994), an autobiographical non-narrative text and a poem presented as a multimedia installation. Here the artist focuses on her identity as a modern woman seeking a place for herself in an Islamic tradition.
Duben's interest in the outsider, the other evolved with her research into an interest in the Western gaze and preconceptions regarding the Turk, which became the central theme of two major works News From The West (1997) and What is a Turk? (2003). In They / Onlar (2015), a multi-screen video installation, Duben investigates how the majority of society in Turkey view their own others, and how these marginalized others perceive one another. Duben's repeated reach to her audience in her interactive installations is experienced again in LoveGame and LoveBook (2001), twin installations about domestic violence. LoveBookis a steel book which documents crimes committed in Turkey and the USA on hand printed steel plates.
Duben has also investigated forced migration. In Farewell My Homeland (2004), an artist's book and multimedia installation, she has covered the 20th century beginning with the Balkan Wars. In this work she reflects on the psychological impact of forced migration at the moment of crossing borders. The same material is brought up to date to cover the 21th century in her major installation in via incognita (2018) which underlies the infinite continuity of such historical events. This time the show contains series of portraits on which names are embroidered by the artist to bring out the individual presence of each victim of the endless saga.
Besides being an actively exhibiting artist she is the author and editor of a number of books and articles on art and criticism; Painting and Criticism in Turkey: 1880-1950(Istanbul Bilgi University ed., 2007, Turkey);Contemporary Art in Turkey in the 80s: New Expansions, co-editor (Istanbul Bilgi University ed., 2008, Turkey); Contemporary Thinking and Art, co-editor (AIAP/PSD, 1991, Istanbul, Turkey).