A Turkish Artist Teamed Up With the Guardian to Publish a List of Migrants Who Died Trying to Reach Europe

Banu Cennetoğlu teamed up with the British daily to publish the list on World Refugee Day.

From 2012: The List of 16,264 documented deaths of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants due to the restrictive policies of Fortress Europe. Documentation as of 13.06.2012 by UNITED for Intercultural Action. 150 posters, in Turkish. October 15 – October 23 2012. Istanbul, Turkey in collaboration with Measure-Europe’n and Salt, Istanbul.

Ahead of her solo exhibition at London’s Chisenhale Gallery, Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu took her work to a more global level. On Wednesday, she marked World Refugee Day by teaming up with the Guardian to publish a list of the 34,361 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives trying to reach Europe since 1993.

The growing list, a fixture in Cennetoğlu’s work for the last 16 years, is compiled by the global anti-discrimination network UNITED for Intercultural Action, which comprises 550 organizations in 48 countries. The list, which accounts for only reported deaths, includes the victims’ names, gender, age, region of origin, and cause of death. (Including unreported or unrecorded fatalities, the true number of migrant deaths is almost certainly much higher.)

A veteran of the biennial circuit—including documenta14, the Gwangju Biennale, Manifesta, and the Berlin Biennial— Cennetoğlu makes work that focuses on mapping, collecting, and archiving, and often tackles the dissemination and consumption of information. She has used the list of migrant deaths in her work since 2002 and has published versions of it in public spaces since 2007.

While the list itself is not an artwork, Cennetoğlu’s dissemination of the names through various channels has become an ongoing, iterative project for the artist. She has presented previous versions of the list on bus stops in Basel, Switzerland; billboards in Amsterdam; a wall in Los Angeles; advertising columns in Berlin; and she has projected it on a screen at Istanbul’s Marmara Pera hotel. This is the first time that the list is being published by an English-language newspaper.

The publication of the list presages a central theme in Cennetoğlu’s upcoming show. As the artist examines visual representations of life and death, she looks for ways to humanize the struggle of recording loss amid a desensitizing 24-hour news cycle.


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