Meriç Algün Ringborg
November 15, 2013 – January 12, 2014
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Turkish artist Meriç Algün Ringborg, her first in a museum in North America, comprising a new large-scale commission sited across the façade of our building. Visitors are invited to ‘read’ the gallery, the work wrapping around the outside as individual phrases envelope the physical structure.
Through the appropriation of methodologies that include collecting, systematizing, and list making, much of Algün Ringborg’s practice centres on notions of cultural identity, language, belonging, and the adjoining bureaucracies. In 2012 Billboards were presented in the exhibition Show Off that took place in Malmö and Nicosia consecutively. The questions shown derive from The Concise Book of Visa Application Forms, 2009, the work inserting queries for private information into the public realm. At a time when immigration is at the forefront of topical news stories, the project gained significant resonance.
Line No.1 (Holy Bible) (2010) was first realized at Index in Stockholm, the complete contents of the Bible running as a single line of text at eye level around the gallery room. A second version at Witte de With, Rotterdam incorporated different versions and translations aside from the King James Version of 1611 first used in Sweden, to create a topography of vertical lines mapping across the space. In this work, two authoritarian components are integrated, a’ line’ and the Holy Bible, in an attempt to raise questions on constraints, borders and control. A horizontal line running around a room is said to have the distinct psychological effect of coercing a person to be below or at eye level with it. The band within the gallery building, in this instance made up of scripture from the Bible, suggests an institutional critique, a cultural space as a place embodying more secular systems of value and belief. Permeated in general consciousness, and disregarding specific individual beliefs, the Bible was employed by Algün Ringborg not for its content, but rather for its history as an instructive text. Moreover, the authoritative position of the artist is also acknowledged by further demanding the viewer’s immersion through producing the text at a near illegible scale. In attempting to read, one is inevitably required to adjust body and sight to the form of the work, whilst being influenced by its textual content and commanded by the horizontal line.
The new work at the Contemporary Art Gallery takes the English dictionary as its starting point. Using only selected definitions of specific words, this ambitious commission appears as a series of inter-related sentences notionally composing mini-narratives and realized in a way that seems to incorporate different voices and characters. As such the work evolves out of the dictionary akin to a fragmentary novel or short story, a series of episodes branching out into a loose meta-narrative concerning writing as a creative act as implied through the use of this ‘found’ language.
Vancouver, a city renowned internationally for the significance of its visual arts that conceptually re-pictures space and assigns meaning of the global in the local, provides a stimulating and challenging context for this piece by Algün Ringborg. Shown outside, the work intervenes in the urban fabric, addressing the narratives implicit in everyday routine and our daily lives. Furthermore its siting on the external surface of the gallery incites an evocation of the porosity of meaning that may emerge from such a public institution, through a contemplation of and dissemination of ideas seeping into the public domain. One might anticipate visitors and viewers are prompted into a personal reflection on reading the text based on recollection of previous encounters and exhibitions.
Production support for the exhibition is generously supported by SAHA Association.