Istanbul’s KRANK Art Gallery is currently hosting artist Sena Başöz's solo exhibition "A Consolation," which will be open to visitors through Oct. 31. The show questions the consequences of accumulated stories and knowledge that leak through the linear narratives of human lives and do not fit into an institutional structure.
Time flows so fast, and the idea of an end is fast approaching us. In his book “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization,” Roy Scranton suggests that the only thing that could save humanity in the Anthropocene, the period referring to the past two centuries of increased human impact on the environment, is our memory.
Addressing healing processes on the basis of the care, self-regeneration and long-term balancing of nature, Başöz, therefore, perceives archiving as showing care for our memory. She believes that editing narratives from an archive invigorates the archive and becomes a practice that creates continuity between life and death.
According to the artist, it takes time and effort to revive an archive by creating narratives from it. Some institutional archives can be handled with care and attention. But what happens to the personal archives, stories and knowledge that do not fit into the institutional structure? This question appeared in Başöz's mind when she worked with an institutional archive last year. She was questioning what we can hide in the face of an end, death.
“A Consolation” came at a time when the artist worked closely with this institutional archive of memory space while reviewing her personal archives of photographs, written and visual materials at her home at the same time. The artist focuses on the lack of resources to pen personal archives and accumulation of knowledge that do not fit in the institutional structure in the narrative. She asks the question, “Can personal narratives and knowledge that are lost, destroyed, torn apart, forgotten or mixed because they are too accumulated be revived as part of a whole?”
The exhibition is named after Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero's lost work “Consolatio,” which he wrote to ease his pain after the death of his daughter. Başöz addresses the connections between life and death by using life forms and extensions that are dispersed and fragmented in nature in the exhibit.
In the exhibit, the video called “The Box” triggers opposing phenomena such as hiding and revealing, holding and releasing, and life and death. Another video installation that takes over the floor of the exhibition space centers on Posidonia oceanica, a species of algae native to the Mediterranean Sea. The artist thinks of the cycles of information and memory that pile up in individual archives on the axis of the cycles of this moss that oscillate together in an underwater meadow and then disperse, form piles on beaches and then turn into compost. The installation is accompanied by photographs taken from the document destruction machine, which formally resembles Posidonia oceanica, as well as collages made of moss, hair and bird feathers.
Başöz continues her research on the conditions and methods of animating an institutional archive for her performance named "Slalom," which she started to develop within the Delfina Foundation Residency Program in London.
“A Consolation” consists of the artist's works on personal archives that have developed in parallel with her work on reinvigorating institutional archives as dealing with an archive is, after all, always about the future for her. Adapting the past and future allows us to understand where we stand today.
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