44-19 Purves St, Long Island City, NY
In her wide ranging cross-disciplinary practice, Banu Cennetoğlu uses objects, images, texts, and printed matter to continuously scrutinize, contemplate, and question the position of the artist/individual vis-à-vis and within the complex geopolitical conditions of our time. Her work presents a mode of hyper-reflexivity that advocates for perseverance and introspection in this moment of unrestrained expressionism. Cennetoğlu’s exhibition at SculptureCenter presents a number of works that deal with the gathering, presentation, circulation, and residue of information, data, and images.
The exhibition includes 1 January 1970 – 21 March 2018 · H O W B E I T · Guilty feet have got no rhythm · Keçiboynuzu · AS IS · MurMur · I measure every grief I meet · Taq u Raq · A piercing Comfort it affords · Stitch · Made in Fall · Yes. But. We had a golden heart. · One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game (2018), a moving image work that presents the totality of the artist’s visual archive from June 10, 2006 to March 21, 2018. This epic project — for which the artist decided not to choose a single title — reimagines what an artist’s retrospective might be: the period of time it documents is bookended on one side by the beginning of Cennetoğlu’s facilitation of the public circulation of UNITED for Intercultural Action’s List — a growing document that traces information related to the deaths of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants within or on the borders of Europe since 1993 — and on the other by the production deadline for the work’s premiere at Chisenhale Gallery in London in 2018, which coincided with Nowruz, the vernal equinox that marks the Persian new year.
In addition to Guilty feet have got no rhythm the exhibition includes the complete 142 volumes of Cennetoğlu’s newspaper projects to date, for which the artist collects and binds a compilation of all newspapers published in a country in a single day. The quantity of papers per capita is of course indicative of the possibility of speech and tolerance for plurality of voices in a given country. Gathered together for the first time, this collection not only pays homage to the waning printed news, but further explores the way that information is mediated and disseminated in more and less free societies.
Written on a mirror as if to crown the viewer’s head, What is it that you are worried about? comes from a 2014 collaboration between Cennetoğlu and Yasemin Özcan and greets the audience as they walk in to browse the newspapers.
The exhibition also includes OffDuty (2017) that stems from the artist’s contribution to documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany, for which she installed “BEINGSAFEISSCARY” on the marquee of the Museum Fridericianum’s façade in place of the museum’s name. Nine aluminum letters were borrowed from the museum’s façade and six remaining letters were cast in brass in the style of the existing ones, transposing a graffiti she had seen in the Polytechnio quarter of Athens to Kassel. Once the conclusion of documenta, the “original” letters returned to the Fridericianum and the six new casts became OffDuty.
Banu Cennetoğlu brings together a selection of works by the artist that consider how we create our own narratives, histories, and memories as we confront large bodies of information produced for or by us. Upholding a cogent form of aesthetic engagement, the artist invites us to consider how our individual positions and actions are in constant negotiation with the larger structures and events that shape our lives. By tying together personal and public archives, Cennetoğlu’s work not only reinforces the maxim that the personal is political, but insists that it is also and inevitably the other way around.