by Angelina Volk
Against the dizzying maelstrom that characterizes much of the art on the contemporary landscape today, Meriç Algün Ringborg offers powerfully delicate inquisitions into how we identify and understand the concept of belonging – to a group, a place or an idea. The Istanbul-born and Stockholm-based artist exhibits, perhaps more than anything, an indomitable desire to understand and simplify metaphysical phenomena that lie at the crux of identity-formation. By applying markedly rational methodologies – in particular the systematic recording, ordering and cataloguing of data – she aims to engender a process that allows her to bring order to the essentially abstract notions of identity or belonging, as well as the limits of creative authorship and expressive capacity. The resulting visual language is reductive and refined – often comprising unadorned text or found and preexisting structures, such as books or other quotidian objects – and frequently carries a comical note that may be attributed to the unexpected simplicity with which the artist has chosen to represent her concerns.
In her work, Algün Ringborg demonstrates that group identity is not merely something we ‘sense’ being a part of (or detached from) but is also something that has been coded and instituted by governmental agencies to define national identity – something one does not necessarily encounter until trying to relocate to another country. When the Turkish-born artist wanted to move to Stockholm with her Swedish partner in 2009, she faced a trying bureaucratic battle in an effort to acquire Swedish citizenship. Long-winded administrative processes accompanied by disaffected scrutiny of her records led Algün Ringborg to investigate the metaphorical and literal borders of realising the ‘self.