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MARSistanbul hosts Vienna-based artist Cana Bilir-Meier’s solo exhibition “My Name is Stranger.”

Working with film, video, photography, collage and installations, Cana Bilir-Mejer draws on archival and found materials. Focusing on archive, Bilir-Meier deals with questions such as: How does the memory repeat itself? How do we reconstruct the past narrations? How do we build the unique and poetic historical facts in other contexts?

In this exhibition Cana Bilir-Meier, who comes from a working class family that migrated to Germany, tells a migration story based on the videos, sound recordings and notes from her family’s archive. At the center of the exhibition stands a 2013 video titled “Semra Ertan.” Semra Ertan was a Turkish woman who burned herself in 1982 while she was 25 years old to protest the racist tendencies in Germany. This woman was Cana Bilir-Meier’s aunt, she worked as a translator and tracer and left behind more than 350 poems. “My Name is Stranger” is one of those poems.

Another work in the exhibition titled “Sound Recording Guide” is a video and sound installation that draws on the sound tapes where her grandfather meticulously recorded the daily events while he worked in Germany as a guest worker between 1960 and 1980: this archive includes various family interactions such as phone calls between Turkey and Germany and various musical recording from both countries.

The visualizations or biographical narrations of past always carry a fictional quality. In her works Cana Bilir-Meier makes this fictional quality explicit through fragmentation strategies. Meier’s works can be considered as the reflection of the fact that memory is not continuous and that the representation of the past is a continuous attempt of reconstruction.

Cana Bilir-Meier lives and works in Vienna. She took her art degree from Vienna Fine Arts Academy, the Department of Media Arts. She produces works in film, digital media, video, video installation and works as a curator in Kasseler Documentary and Video Film Festival. She also writes critical texts on art and works as a guest lecturer in universities and art institutes. She was awarded with ‘kültür gemma’ (one of the prominent scholarships in Austria for migrant artists and cultural projects) and she was the winner of Birgit Jürgenssen Award in 2016.

Text: Manisha Jothady
Translation from German to Turkish: Fatih Aydoğdu
Translation from Turkish to English: Ahmet Ergenç

MARS is supported by SAHA as part of “Grant for the Sustainability of Independent Art Initiatives 2016–2017”.

Austrian Cultural Office is supporting Cana Bilir-Meier's exhibition at MARSistanbul.