Alfred Gell considered how ‘artworks are like social agents, in that they are the outcome of social initiatives which reflect a specific, socially inculcated sensibility’. Banu Cennetoğlu’s work which is currently on view at the Chisenhale Gallery, in London, is a fascinating and unpredictable insight into over a decade of her lived experiences. The work draws from the phenomenological realities of the artist’s life.
Experiencing the installation is reminiscent of experiencing ‘Diary’ by Tim Hetherington. An experimental piece of work presented by Hetherington which is composed of images that represent his lived experiences. Heatherington was a photojournalist and human rights, advocate. Both works, present an accumulation of lived experiences.
Banu Cennetoğlu at the Chisenhale Gallery
From the comfort of the folding chairs at the Chisenhale, one is transported to a place with an insiders view. The act of purchasing fruit from a roadside stall and the opportunity to share in Cennetoğlu’s road trip through mountains. Subtle sounds such as the soft rhythm of conservation that occurs are shared in unpredictable ways. Drawn from her digital content, the piece provides the opportunity for the viewer to witness the encounter of an artist. In addition to relating to her very human experiences of loss and birth.
In addition to the Chisenhale being a gallery, it operates as a research center, community resource, and production agency. Supporting artists from around the world with a reputation for engaging diverse audiences.
Banu Cennetoğlu’s artistic practice explores how knowledge is collated and distributed, and its subsequent effects on society. Cennetoğlu’s methods include archiving and mapping. In order to question and challenge the politics of memory, loss, belonging and ownership. In addition to exploring the distribution and consumption of information, the new commission is described as a multi-titled moving image work.
Drawing from her digital archive to create a work that spans 128 hours and 22 minutes. The Chisenhale Gallery presents a new six-hour file each day from the 28th June to the 26th August.
An impressive 46,685 individual files form the digital content. Files that link a piece of technology to the identity of the artist and the people involved in her life in an intersubjective way. We utilise various forms of technology to satisfy our visual experiences on a daily basis. This 43-day exhibition has been designed to only repeat the showing of the whole film once through the way the 22 parts are shared each day during the galleries opening hours.
Cennetoğlu & The Guardian
In conjunction with the installation, Cennetoğlu facilitated the distribution of The List of Deaths on World Refugee Day 2018 in the Guardian Newspaper, both in print and digital format. Emphasising that the
‘List is not an artwork in itself – the art lies in its dissemination. Cennetoğlu always ensures that the look of the list remains the same – a grid of data, showing the year, the name of the refugee, where he or she came from, the cause of the death and the source.’ The Guardian
Copies of the Guardian have been made available to visitors of Cennetoğlu’s work at the Chisenhale Gallery.
Working with the list since 2007, in collaboration with other artists and institutions Cennetoğlu has facilitated up-to-date and translated versions of The List of Deaths in public spaces. For example, in billboards in Amsterdam, walls in Los Angeles and incorporated it into advertising columns in Berlin. Currently, it has been presented at Great George Street, Liverpool, as part of the 2018 Liverpool Biennial. Cennetoğlu insists that she is an artist and not an activist, despite her work making The List visible in the public sphere.
Along with being a co-founder of BAS a collaborative project and public archive of artists books in Turkey, Cennetoğlu founded a publishing house with Philippine Hoegen. The BAS collection consists of artist’s books and periodicals by artists and artist collectives.
Books have provided Cennetoğlu with the opportunity to present her ideas in her own unique way, outside of the methods others might choose to frame it. Others being curators, art institutions, magazine and print media publishers. The process of piecing text and images together in this way became part of her artistic process and created an additional way for the artist to both interpret and present her body of work. Books in this context create a new place for the artist and other artists in the Bas collection. Essentially places are ‘contexts for human experience, constructed in movement, memory, encounter, and association’ Christopher Tilley.
History is a particular way of framing death when it is associated with war and conflict. Victims and victim-perpetrators are often made visible, through their names being incorporated into sculptures, and other objects of war memorabilia.
Posthumously a person’s death is recognised as being part of a particular event that happened in the world that relates to a war, a period of terror or conflict that marks a distinctive period of time for that place and the people who inhabit it. An example of this would be a ‘stolperstein’ with its brass plate that has been inscribed with the name and life dates of a person who died as a result of Nazi extermination.
Artist Gunter Demnig initiated the Stolpersteine project in 1992. Designed to remember people at their last place of residency. Seventy thousand exist in 22 countries and together they are considered the world’s largest decentralised memorial.
Societies around the world are very good at posthumously remembering the ‘victims’ of terror after the events have taken place, and when there is a period of time to distance themselves from what occurred. The distance allows us to visit sites where atrocities have taken place and for us to engage with the information through a memorial.
Delving into history provides us with a particular frame for imagining the events that unfolded. Cultural institutions around the world house objects and perspectives associated with them. We can visit these and at a remove from the event itself, gaze, wonder and imagine what it must have been like to have lived through or to have survived that time.
Documentary film is one method used to bring a historical event to our attention. In addition to being used to persuade the viewer to consider a particular point of view on a social issue. Essentially, how the story is framed, what has been chosen to be included and excluded relates to the style of a documentary and its makers.
Giles Duley a documentary photographer has been working on the Legacy of War project for a number of years which explores the long-term effects of conflict globally. Duley launched the Legacy of War Foundation in 2018. This collaborative project uses storytelling to foster change. With a knack for storytelling, Duley transports us into the homes of people who have overcome enormous loss and devastation in their lives. Stories that take you through the experiences of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the Greek Islands, and Lebanon. Along with harrowing facts about the realities facing displaced people in Europe.
United for Intercultural Action
UNITED for Intercultural Action is the European network against nationalism, racism, and fascism. In addition, to working in support of migrants, refugees, and minorities.
Their work includes coordinating campaigns, organising conferences, assisting in projects and producing publications. In addition to advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society.
The List of Deaths
In February, Hassane Traoré and Houseine Traoré, 28-year-old twins, from the Ivory Coast drowned when a small wooden boat capsized off the coast of the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
Marian Shaka a twenty-year-old pregnant woman from Nigeria drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya with twenty-five other young women a few months prior to the twins. In addition to dying at sea displaced people are often killed while crossing borders. List of Deaths.
Why has The List been compiled?
The List of Deaths has been compiled to raise awareness of the documented deaths of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. It draws attention to
‘the role of our societies in protecting those who flee from war, persecution and poverty and highlights the serious flaws in our asylum and immigration systems that routinely threaten individual human dignity. These rights are laid out in the 1951 Geneva Convention; they are not simply a set of values and principles we should try to uphold, but constitute international law. Each time they are broken, they are therefore a direct violation of the protocols to which each participating country is bound.’ United For Intercultural Action
Data contained in The List includes the person’s name, country of origin, circumstances and the location where people have died. Compiled by a combination of researchers and local experts. Information that has been readily made available to people around the world through the United for Intercultural Action website. Facilitating an interdisciplinary approach to how the information is used.
Since 1993 ‘at least 34,361 refugee deaths can be attributed to the ‘Fatal Policies of Fortress Europe’. Most probably thousands more are never found.’ United For Intercultural Action
Accessing The List
The List of Deaths is a document easily accessed online that reflects current events that are unfolding today. We can choose to ignore these events. Even, wait for a time where we can posthumously remember those affected at a safe remove. Perhaps in the designed environment of a memorial in any one of the worlds beautifully curated cultural institutions. Or we can engage with this continuously updated list. In addition to the 34,361 people it currently represents and the communities torn apart by conflict around the world.
European immigration policies
Organisations such as UNITED for Intercultural Action, encourage us to consider our European immigration policies. In addition to the politicians that shape them. With the help of the general public, and International media campaigns change can be made to European policies in order to create a human vision on migration. Over thirty thousand migrants arrived in Europe between January and April 2018. Within these statistics are people.
The HumanTech Innovation Lab is a digital humanitarian initiative, proactively and collaboratively at the intersect between humanitarianism and technology. The MyInform platform will represent a core paradigm shift for the displaced. Enabling them to be supported and recognised specifically according to their personal context and future aspirations; to be respected as part of the solution to truly global prosperity and security, rather than being seen as a threat to it. MyInform exists precisely to empower refugees – partner with us operationally in the ground so we can do precisely that.