Europe (to the power of) n, Istanbul


OCTOBER 15 – NOVEMBER 17, 2012

The List                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Banu Cennetoglu, Liste (2011), Basel Tren Istasyonu
Banu Cennetoğlu, The List (2011), Basel Train Station

SALT Beyoğlu and streets of İstanbul

Measure is part of the Europe’n project, supported by the Goethe Institut. Banu Cennetoğlu’s public intervention, along with two films by Isaac Julien articulate and question the European borders through the programming that will take place around İstanbul and in the Walk-in Cinema at SALT Beyoğlu October 15 through November 17.

The economic crisis that has been setting the tone in world affairs for the past half decade has had extensive social and political consequences; the rise of right wing politics and policies, and an escalation in discrimination against immigrants chief among them. This, however, is not a new issue, especially not so in Europe. Even at the advent of the EU project, the idea of the European citizen came with its definitive counterpart, the Other, which had already been formed through a colonial history. The borders drawn by the Schengen Convention delineates these identities rather than territories, regulating the movement of people.

The movement of people around the EU border has been a contentious issue in Turkey’s accession process as the EU expects systematic efforts to fortify their border from Turkey while it remains outside of it. In 2012, the EU agency Frontex signed a memorandum with Ankara stating the “establishment of practical cooperation between Frontex and Turkish authorities competent in border management”. Having signed the 1951 Geneva Convention with geographical limitations (Turkey is one of three countries who has done so) Turkey has legally only been granting refugee status to “foreigners” from Europe. While keeping this limitation in place, there has also been a bill proposed to the Grand National Assembly in the past months to regulate “foreigners” from Turkey’s eastern borders as well.

In 1993, the year The Maastricht Treaty was signed, philosopher Étienne Balibar wrote that “the theorist who attempts to define what a border is is in danger of going around in circles, as the very representation of the border is the precondition for any definition”. Measure deals with this aporia.

Banu Cennetoğlu cuts through this aporia by publicly disseminating The List, a document that contains the names of more than 16.264 known refugees and asylum seekers who have died within, or on the borders of Europe since 1993 (the document was last updated on June 13, 2012). It is compiled and updated every year by the Amsterdam-based organization UNITED for Intercultural Action. In collaboration with curators and institutions, Cennetoğlu has shown up to date and translated versions of The List in several countries since 2006, using public display structures such as ad-boards and newspaper supplements.* The database format of the document, as made available by UNITED on their website is not altered, simply blown up, in presenting it to the city dweller unsuspecting of a public display of the representation rather than a theoretical definition, of the border in all its violence.

Between October 15-23, as part of the Measure, The List (2012) will appear in İstanbul on outdoor advertising boards as well as poster boards in the Metro line that carries 230.000 people every day. The List as it is proposed here, however, is not merely meant as a socio-political project, but also a long term process in exploring the borders and the scope of artistic practice. Facilitating the display of such a document is a delicate and hazardous task especially when the artist and her related context are the facilitators. Would it be more legitimate and thus more efficient if such an intervention were executed by an NGO? What happens if a “responsible “ act ends up being a mere spectacle? Does what a responsible act is differ in various contexts? A conversation between Cennetoğlu, and Emel Kurma of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly will try to discuss these issues in the Walk-in-Cinema at SALT Beyoğlu on October 19.

This will be followed by a series of two films, which will also be shown in the Walk-in-Cinema at SALT Beyoğlu, in which Isaac Julien evokes borders through historical, theoretical, practical, performative, and poetic means. In Peau noire, Masque blanc (1996) a documentary style film that narrates the story of the life of Frantz Fanon, the Algerian anti-colonialist writer, Julien takes on a colonial history that may be read as both a constitutive element and a mirror of the predicament of the EU borders today. In a later short film, WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (2007) Julien traces journeys on the Mediterranean, depicting the European shore as the space where the joyous beach is juxtaposed with a red stray t-shirt, a material as well as symbolic trace of those lost at sea. These two works, together, span a historical period from colonial Europe to the EU, delineating their borders.

Cennetoğlu’s intervention and Julien’s films encircle the European border in ways that go beyond theorization or representation, rendering it barely visible through its violence rather than its material existence. That this project is taking place in İstanbul, Turkey which poses as a border not only to the EU but also to the Middle East, will conceivably open this program to further readings from many aspects.

Curated by Esra Sarigedik Öktem
Coordinated by Lara Fresko

*During the first installment in March 2007, The List was displayed as a poster campaign in 110 outdoor advertising signs throughout the city of Amsterdam in close collaboration with curator Huib Haye van der Werf, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam and SKOR. On September 28, 2007, in collaboration with the 1st Athens Biennale and TA NEA newspaper, the 16 page list was published in its entirety translated to Greek and distributed as a supplement in the daily paper. And finally, from January 31 to February 8 2011, the 36- page document translated to German was on display as a poster campaign in seventy-two locations in Basel-Stadt and in Baselland in collaboration with Kunsthalle Basel.


Opening: Measure
Opening remarks: Barbara Steiner (Artistic Director, Europe’n)
In Conversation: Banu Cennetoğlu and Emel Kurma
October 19, 18.30
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema

Screening: WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (2007)
Isaac Julien
Without dialogue, 18’
October 20 (all day, every half hour)
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema

Screening: FRANTZ FANON: Peau Noire, Masque Blanc (1996)
Isaac Julien
French-English, 73’
November 3 (all day, every 2 hours)
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema

Isaac Julien Film Screenings
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema
November 10

FRANTZ FANON: Peau Noire, Masque Blanc (1996)
Isaac Julien
French-English, 73’

WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (2007)
Isaac Julien
Without dialogue, 18’

Talk by Isaac Julien
Geo-poetica: Choreographing the Moving Image: Post-cinematic Desire, the politics of aesthetics, and the aesthetics of Politics
November 10, 18.30
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema

Screening: WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (2007)
Isaac Julien
Without dialogue, 18’
November 17 (all day, every half hour)
SALT Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema
Europe (to the power of) n is a transnational project of the Excellence Initiative of the Goethe-Institut. It is a collaboration of the Goethe-Institut in Munich and the Regional Goethe-Institutes in Central and East Europe, South-East Europe, North-West and South-West Europe and East Europe/Central Asia, in Belgrade, Brussels, İstanbul, Warsaw, London, Minsk, Vilnius, Oslo, Beijing and Madrid with institutions in and outside the European Union. Europe (to the power of) n is coordinated by Sabine Hentzsch, Goethe-Institut in London. Artistic Director is Barbara Steiner.

The external partners are: Co-Organisers: Curating Contemporary Art Programme / Royal College of Art, London; Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden / Oslo; Associated Partners: Contemporary Art Study Centre / European Humanities University, Vilnius; Novaja Europa Magazine, Minsk; Galerie Y, Minsk; SALT, Istanbul; Muzej savremene umetnosti Vojvodine, Novi Sad; Sint-Lukasgalerie, Brussels; Taipei Contemporary Art Centre, Taipei; Vitamin Creative Space, Beijing / Guangzhou; San Telmo Museoa, Office for European Capital of Culture 2016, both Donostia-San Sebastián

In collaboration with SALT

With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union