Banu Cennetoğlu's Work Removed from the Liverpool Biennial
By Phoebe Tam
*Last updated August 21, 2018.
On August 15, Banu Cennetoğlu's contribution to the 2018 Liverpool Biennial, The List (2007– ), was torn down for a second time. It was ripped off hoardings around a construction site on Great George Street, where it had been re-installed after being removed for the first time on July 28. The perpetrators behind the display’s repeated destruction remain a mystery.
The List features the names of the 34,361 people who lost their lives in the process of seeking refuge from Europe between 1993 and mid-2018. The project draws from the documentation of refugee, asylum seeker and migrant deaths attributed to the “Fortress Europe” policy, compiled by UNITED Against Refugee Deaths, a Europe-based network of organizations. Since 2007, Cennetoğlu has been working on the distribution of the document in various public venues, including at public transit hubs, billboards and in print on newspapers, to maximize the visibility of the refugee crisis.
“It is timely and important to make The List public during a global refugee crisis,” the director of Liverpool Biennial, Sally Tallant, said in a statement to Frieze after the first incident in July.
Cennetoğlu will not install The List a third time, stating that the torn remnants of the display will serve as a “reminder of this systematic violence exercised against people.”
The artist claims The List has never been damaged in other locations where it has been shown, including cities across Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom.
On World Refugee Day 2018, The List appeared on both the print and online editions of The Guardian. In an interview with The Atlantic, Cennetoğlu explained her motivation in distributing The List: “People have very short attention spans. Sometimes they only read things reduced to one line on the front page of a newspaper. Sometimes it’s manipulated or a half conceit. I think when you see the scale of this, when you can hold it in your hand, it’s overwhelming.”
The latest iteration of The List was produced with the help of Liverpool Biennial and London’s Chisenhale Gallery. As an extension of the project, Cennetoğlu’s solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery explores the responsibilities that recording experiences of life and death entail, and the limitations in her attempt to capture loss. It will be on view until August 26, 2018.
Phoebe Tam is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
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