The murder of George Floyd through literal asphyxiation marked yet another grotesque manifestation of racist violence. The metaphor of racial prejudice suffocating people of color because of the different institutional and social barriers which still stand turned into the tangible, horrifying reality of death. How much anger, how much hate, how much frustration must a person feel in order to commit such a crime? How much determination must the murderer have in order to sit unflinchingly on his victims neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds?
The installation is an exploration of breath, keeping these elements of hate, anger and determination in focus and responding to them in an equal measure. The hateful breath is repeatedly asphyxiated through sonic means, repeatedly stopped in its tracks, fought against time and time again, while the two crumpled drawings represent both the blackened, disfigured lungs which give way to such violent breath, as well as the result of actions stemming from hate, as seen in the murders by suffocation of Eric Garner and George Floyd.
The work was shown as part of AARC #1 Tortu.
AARC is an experimental artistic solidarity project conceived by Errant Sound and Apartment Project in Berlin. After the racist murders in Hanau, the two groups met to initiate a collaboration between the two project spaces – also as a political statement – by forming the”Artists Against Racism Collaborative (AARC)”.
The short form AARC refers to the word arc — arc as a bridge between artists of different fields and cultural backgrounds. At the same time, the title phonetically evokes the “AARGGH!” interjection, conveying common feelings of despair, fear and exhaustion among communities who are affected by racist attacks and/or exposed to subtle forms of racism. The collectively formulated voice develops individual and/or joint responses to such emotions and names and unveils everyday practices of racism. Through this collaboration, the two venues aim to create a mutual artistic conversation, facilitate a process of collaboration and develop new forms of solidarity.
TORTU is the Turkish word for “residue”. It describes a solid matter that isn’t able to blend into the liquid in which it accumulates, clouding it when stirred. TORTU is what leaves its sticky traces on the body, what penetrates into the flesh; it seals off the network of communications; paralyzes the cells: It dominates. The works shown under the title TORTU characterize the urgency to respond to the political and social issue of racism whose impact on everybody’s life cannot be ignored. Racism hangs there among us, unresolved and unbroken, clouding judgment, obstructing transparency and tainting social and political environments.
AARC#1 — TORTU is a three-day exhibition at Errant Sound combined with an event with performances and presentations at Apartment Project.
Artists: Emre Birişmen, Andrei Cucu, Melih Sarıgöl & Laura Mello, Oliver Möst, Özlem Sarıyıldız & Bora Yediel, Çiğdem Üçüncü & Steffi Weismann