MERIÇ ALGÜN RINGBORG

In the series of works A Hook or a Tail (2013) Meriç Algün Ringborg reflects upon crossing natural, cultural, linguistic and bureaucratic borders. The work takes as its point of departure the way Algün
Ringborg herself moved from Istanbul to Stockholm; this process entails a series of bureaucratic stamps, application forms and interviews, which ultimately might result in a lawful and legal residence within the EU. Another way to migrate is, of course, to move illegally. A Hook or a Tail makes reference to a particular border: that between Turkey, Bulgaria
and Greece and the river Meriç, or Evros or Maritsa.
Originating from Bulgaria, it acts as the border between Turkey and Greece and is given different names respectively. The river, partly being the namesake of the artist, is today one of the most frequently used locations for illegally entering the European Union. That the artist shares her name with this river is coincidental, but nevertheless intriguing,
and the river being the river Meriç is central to these works. Algün Ringborg looks at the river itself, and by its simple image or topographical outline suggests the notions of crossing it in either direction. Taking its reference from Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled which is an endless reproduction of an image of water, Algün Ringborg shows an image of the river Meriç in a similar manner. In Untitled (Evros, Maritsa, Meriç) she hints at the different localities that surround this water and therefore the different political systems they exist within. Furthering this idea, in the work Blue River Red Border two lines mark the bird’s eye view of the river and the border. It was decided at the Treaty of Lausanne how the border and the river would coalesce, but as it meanders, the piece shows where the river flows naturally and where the Treaty of Lausanne once decided that the border would run, highlighting the constructed nature of borders. Ç (The Unfortunate Letter) is a collection of personal letters that concern the mark known
as cedilla, as in the c of Meriç. In the artist’s new context of Sweden, the ç is frequently confused or altered in letters from authoritative agencies such as banks, universities and even the Migration office.
Ranging from simply omitting the letter and making the name Meri to more advanced Meri% to replacing the ç with the html code as in Meri& #231; the loss of the cedilla serves as a continuous reminder of
“originally” coming from somewhere else and of not fitting within the system. Moreover, Archiving Meriç, a sound piece, plays numerous individuals saying the name “Meriç” with varied pronunciation, which
simultaneously and confusingly is either the artists’ name or the name of the river, or both – blurring the boundaries of the two and making central the name no matter what or whom it is attached to. Finally,
the work Becoming European, a series of drawings with date stamps on paper, displays the dates and ways the artist has resided within the EU and disappeared when beyond their territory, mimicking the manner the Migration Office records her stay.
Different colors represent different legal statuses such as blue: tourist, red: temporary resident, purple: pending, black: permanent resident, green: waiting for citizenship, whilst all the absent dates are when the
artist was outside their borders, for instance in her hometown, Istanbul. The counting of days ends when she acquired citizenship and the whole period is from 21.12.2007 to 03.06.2012. Together, all these works
together form a poignant remark on the permeability of borders and of today’s fluid, migratory and often precarious identities that are the result of crossing borders, for whatever reason, either due to choice or
force majeure.