Video Installation

• Sun 20 10 – Sat 21 09 2019 •
The Mother of the L. By belit sağ


In the Cologne district Ehrenfeld, south of the train line at the end of Lichtstrasse, is ‘Gazi Husrevbeg’, the Bosnian Islamic Cultural Community; north of the railway stands the Documentation Centre and Museum of Migration in Germany (DOMiD).

The Amsterdam-based, Turkey-born artist belit sağ wanted to connect these two locations to one another. She wanted to bring memories from the archive down to street level and make them accessible to all in the inner courtyard of the community centre with a large-scale video installation. The starting point of the work is a trove of archived photographs – which she was denied permission to use at the last minute – dozens of private photos, to which the “L” in the title of the project refers (it stands for lender). The deliberate renaming of the work from The Mother of the L. to In the Absence of THE MOTHER OF THE L. is meant to make this loss of access to the source material visible. With a new focus on the film and sound material that she produced during her research trips to Cologne, belit sağ found an artistic answer to the absence of the archival material.

The artist met young women who sing Ilahije, traditional songs with religious subject matter, in the choir at the Bosnian Islamic Cultural Community. She had conversations with Ara Dinkjian, the Armenian American composer of the melody of the Ilahija that is sung in the video. This melody was familiar to sağ; it reminds her of a song popular in Turkey by the late Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya. Thus the artist brings different versions of this melody and the migration stories of individual figures together into a dialogue.

With the project In the Absence of THE MOTHER OF THE L. belit sağ reflects on how pictures, compositions and documents are used and also grapples with the accessibility of archives. “Conserving and conversing” is how the artist describes this recontextualised access to the material, an approach that is invariably necessary.

Installation view: belit sağ, in der Abwesenheit der MUTTER DER L., CityLeaks Urban Art Festival, 2019 | Photos: Robert Winter

Free admission
Venue: Bosnisch Islamische Kulturgemeinschaft 'Gazi Husrevbeg' e.V.,
Vogelsanger Straße 210, 50825 Cologne

In cooperation with CityLeaks Urban Art-Festival and DOMiD – Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany e.V.