Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center
617 Main Street
January 19 - April 14
In the five videos that make up her first solo exhibition, “Let Me Remember,” belit sağ grapples with the murders committed in Germany between 2000 and 2007 by the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose victims were primarily Turkish and Kurdish migrants. In re-narrating this history of violence, the artist takes visitors to the edges of memory and trauma to address the whiteness that remains after erasure, an effect rendered by photographic overexposure and the state’s willful disavowal of minority accounts. In her work, sağ begins her retelling from a tangible void.
Baklılmış, Silinmiş . . . (The gazed and the erased . . .), 2018, is the unlikely crux of the show, as it deals with these murders at the most indirect level. The video presents a short history of photography through a series of firsts, including Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s 1839 photograph The Boulevard du Temple, which gestures to the limits of any accurate documentation. For what is purportedly the first photograph of a person, the daguerreotype plate only captured one solitary, still silhouette, expunging countless unknown others from the image due to their movement in the thoroughfare. And even this figure, as sağ narrates with subtitles, eventually faded into whiteness after a botched restoration at Munich’s Fotomuseum in 1970.
Munich was also the site of the NSU trials in 2013, in which sağ’s work intervenes by piecing together portrait photographs of the victims found in mainstream media, visualizing crime-scene fragments, and re-creating the courtroom’s obfuscating optics. In aşırı pozlanmış (overexposed), 2017–18, sağ uses a voice-over to foreground migrant-situated perspectives, upending the dominant narratives propped up by mainstream media. In these videos, memory becomes a site of resistance, a place where excised knowledge is reclaimed, if only in piecemeal remnants. The show’s declarative title brings us to a moment of timely self-reflection: What can be remembered, who can do this remembering, and which remembrances count?