Pınar Öğrenci

Work exhibited in the Trade Fair Palace:

Resisting Forest / 2019 / site-specific multimedia installation / video loop (1 min 7 s), video documentation (37 min), audio (3 min 30 s), 40 sticks*, metal construction, fishing line / courtesy of the artist

*40 wooden sticks collected from women who set up protest against the thermal station and HEPP projects in Black Sea region of Turkey; sound recorded from collectively hitting the sticks on the ground; 3 video documentations of the interviews. Produced for 7th Sinop Biennial, 2019.

Resisting Forest, 2019, Biennale Matter of Art 2024, National Gallery Prague – Trade Fair Palace (c) Jonáš Verešpej

What is our weapon of choice when we protest? How do we resist? For the artist and filmmaker Pınar Öğrenci (lives in Berlin, b. Van (Turkey), 1973), 40 sticks symbolize the resistance of rural women from the Black Sea coast of Turkey. These women protested against the building of a thermal plant in Gerze and a hydro-electric power plant in Aslandere. They stood up against the police and used their everyday work tools—wooden sticks—to create noise and make their voices heard. Through peaceful means, they successfully stopped the private energy projects supported by the state. These projects were threatening the ecological balance for humans and non-humans in their regions. They protected their rivers, so essential to their work as farmers. For them, the river also means much more: it is a place to rest, to swim, to meet. Pınar asked the women to share their experience in a series of video interviews. The women also agreed to share their sticks as part of the installation Resisting Forest. The sticks stand for their resistance and their strength in collectivity. Difficult, everyday struggles are at the heart of Pınar Öğrenci’s films and installations. She often deals with how people are forced to leave their homes, move to a different place, survive and resist. She focuses on stories that we rarely speak about and makes them visible through her work.

Pinar Ogrenci portreit at Mars İstanbul (c) from the artist's archive

Displacement, migration, survival, and resistance are cornerstones of Pınar Öğrenci's films and installations. Driving her works are difficult, everyday struggles: the stories she hears, observes, experiences, collects, and documents from different geographies. In earlier works, Öğrenci followed the rarely spoken stories of migrating communities around the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and in Berlin. She has a background in architecture, which informs her poetic and experiential video-based work and installations that accumulate traces of “material culture” related to forced displacement. Her works are decolonial and feminist readings from the intersections of social, political, and anthropological research, everyday practices, and human stories that follow agents of forced migration. Her works have been exhibited widely in institutions and exhibitions including documenta fifteen in Kassel (2022), Berlinische Galerie (2023), 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018), 6th Athens Biennale (2018), Sharjah Biennial 13 (2017), Survival Kit (2019), Tensta Konsthall Stockholm (2018), Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (2017), MAXXI Museum, Rome (2016), and SALT Galata, Istanbul (2015–2016). Her first solo exhibition abroad, A Gentle Breeze Passed Over Us, was realized at Kunst Haus Wien – Museum Hundertwasser in Vienna in 2017.