Cemile Sahin Esther Schipper
Cemile SahinEsther Schipper
Cemile Sahin, Bad People, Bad News, 2021, 3-channel video, installation, duration: 40 min.
Exhibition view: Arbeit am Gedächtnis – Transforming Archives, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2021).
Photo © Andrea Rossetti






“For me, images and text belong together. And that also corresponds to the way I generally work. When you work with film, you also must have a certain relationship and access to language, because you can’t detach one from the other.”


Cemile Sahin's (b. 1990) artistic practice operates between film, photography, sculpture, and literature. Freely deploying different media, without privileging one or the other, her work embodies today's synchronicity of image- and text-based communications. Integrating images into her books and text in her image-world, Sahin moves with extraordinary agility between words and pictures, between still and moving image, between text as form, sign, and symbol.


Her video installation Bad People, Bad News (2021) will be on view in Summer ’22, a group exhibition at Esther Schipper, Berlin opening on July 21, 2022. The work is also included in the exhibition Identity not Proven at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (through October 3, 2022).


Other artist's exhibitions and projects include: Arbeit am Gedächtnis – Transforming Archives, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2021); Laboratory of Contested Space / Art & Truthtelling, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2020); ars viva 2020, Kunstverein, Hamburg (2020); Where the Story Unfolds, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2020); Studio Berlin, Berghain, Berlin (2020); ars viva 2020, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig (2019); and Tell me about yesterday tomorrow, NS-Dokumentationszentrum, Munich (2019).


In autumn 2022, Sahin will participate in the 16th Lyon Biennale, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, as well as present the solo exhibition A Song of Tigris and Euphrates at Kunsthalle Osnabrück.









In Bad People, Bad News, different backgrounds, stories and issues relating to three Kurdish women are narrated and interwoven. They meet every year in a different presidential suite of a hotel to celebrate the death of ex-president and dictator Saddam Hussein. At the center is a box they always carry with them. It is an archive of drawings, texts and events that they created after his death.


From this repository they draw details and keywords that set their stories in motion in ever new segments. In this way, an overall narrative is formed about nations, dictatorships, monuments, terror, and questions about power and interpretive sovereignty, original and fake. In doing so, the film breaks the chain of media imagery by omitting them entirely, and negotiates as well as undermines the possibilities of a memory space by telling a story about disappearance.







Exhibition view: Cemile Sahin, It Would Have Taught Me Wisdom, Esther Schipper, Berlin (2021)
Photos © Andrea Rossetti



In 2021 It Would Have Taught Me Wisdom, Cemile Sahin’s first presentation with Esther Schipper, created an environment in which text and image were entangled. The installation is composed of colored plexiglass panels with digitally printed collaged elements, forming a sculptural structure, set against a wallpaper representing the signing ceremony of the Sèvres treaty – the last of the treaties reordering nations, redrawing borders, and redistributing territories after World War I.


A major motif of the work is a digitally reconstructed 3D model of a porcelain statue—an écritoire, or inkwell, above which the goddess Minerva sits enthroned—which was the centerpiece on the table where the Sèvres treaty was signed. The porcelain statue was a starting point for Sahin, as it seemed to constitute an unlikely linchpin: traditionally Minerva was considered the patroness of the crafts, arts, goddess of wisdom but also of strategic warfare. In Sahin’s work, the goddess has been marked more prominently in the garb of war: her flowing robe bears the camouflage patterns of modern combat uniforms.





The work’s title, It Would Have Taught Me Wisdom, is taken from a quote attributed to Prussian King Wilhelm II about the coveted Minerva sculpture. Sahin is currently developing a series of films about the treaties, and their lasting repercussions for the region.







Cemile Sahin's series of photographic panels—each unique and numbered sequentially—draws on imagery related to the artist's ongoing projects.


Often taken from concurrent research material, or, in recent works, from film footage shot by Sahin, the panels can be compared to working notes, reminders of ideas from the past that might be taken up again in future projects.

Printed on a special UV foil with oscillating holographic effects—a material originally developed for the use on cars but outlawed in some countries because of safety concerns—the work changes appearance as the spectator moves, giving the panel a sculptural quality.









Cemile Sahin's debut novel TAXI was published in 2019, followed by her book ALLE HUNDE STERBEN in 2020, both of which are integral parts of her artistic practice. For TAXI Sahin was awarded the Alfred Döblin-Medaille.




Available at Esther Schipper Bookstore.






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