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Meriç Algün Ringborg, "Souvenirs for the Landlocked"

Souvenirs for the Landlocked

The 56th International Art Exhibition titled “All the World’s Futures”, curated by Okwui Enwezor was open to the public at the Giardini della Biennale and at the Arsenale. Meriç Algün Ringborg is invited to this edition of the Biennale (9 May–22 November 2015) organized by la Biennale di Venezia. SAHA supported the production of the new work by the artist.

“Souvenirs for the Landlocked” is an installation that both takes inspiration from and uses real objects from the artist’s grandfather. However, it situates itself in a wider scope and regards also the longstanding history and growth of maritime shipping, which today carries 90 percent of the world’s 5.1 billion tons of international trade.

The artist’s grandfather worked as an operator on freighters traveling around the world. He traveled from the northern parts of Russia to Cape of Good Hope in Africa, from Brazil to Japan to Canada. He brought gifts and souvenirs for each member of his family every time he returned, gifts that carried a particular significance with respect to an idea of an outside world due to the rest of the family being entirely landlocked. This is a project that seeks to understand the mobility of such trade and the mobility of those that travel with it, amongst them her grandfather, and it does so by looking toward shipping routes, the perils of sea, and the physicality of bringing things from one end of the world to the other. Yet it’s also a work that considers the condition of being immobile, the metaphorical landlockedness of the family at home.

The installation comprises a group of sculptural works placed within an environment. This environment aims to hybridize the contexts of ship and home, referring to an idea of being both mobile and immobile. This hybrid room is minimal in tone and constructed by laying a metal floor that calls to mind a ship’s deck, the modern kind, painted in a cargo ship’s typical antifouling red paint, all to allude to the idea of a ship.

The way that the context of home is manifested in this space is through the form each sculpture takes. One of these sculptures is a display case of the type many might have at home, typically to show cherished objects. Inside are the souvenirs her grandfather brought back from his travels. Meriç Algün Ringborg’s interest in the souvenirs comes from their position between “the site of being away” and “the place of being home”. Another part of the installation is a dual-door cabinet onto which an image of a ship is represented by the technique of intarsia across its two doors. Another piece is a pedestal on which a vase with fresh flowers stands. It is a piece that suggests ways in which things are linked and transported, but also a kind of fiction of transporting things. Yet another piece is a custom-made globe that maps all shipping routes in the world. In the interlocking web these shipping lines create, 90% of everything is shipped by sea. Alongside this globe there is an oil lamp standing on a small table which concerns the fact that the most shipped commodity is crude oil. It references oil as a perishable, continuously re-shipped commodity while also alluding to the contemporary dependency on it.

About Meriç Algün Ringborg

Meriç Algün Ringborg (b.1983, Istanbul) lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. She received her BA in Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design from Sabanci University, Istanbul (2007) and her MFA from Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm (2012). In her work, she employs a variety of media including printed matter, photography, sound and installation; mainly focusing on the themes of nationality, borders, translation, bureaucracy and home.