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Banu Cennetoğlu studied psychology in Istanbul and photography in New York and Paris before completing her education at Amsterdam’s Rijksakademie in 2003. She returned to Istanbul in 2005 establishing BAS, a non-profit project space dedicated to collecting and publishing artists' books in 2006.

Cennetoğlu’s work reflects her fascination with books, archives and collections; their form and function and how they hold, preserve and circulate information. There is also an acute attention to the written word and printed image, the transmission of ideas and beliefs through symbols and signs. Working with a range of different media and often in a highly collaborative way, she has involved a range of institutions and individuals – from artisanal bookbinders to a ‘Habitat and Human Energy Rebalancing Coach’– in the production of her works.

In 2009 Cennetoğlu produced an exhibition entitled ‘CATALOG’ for the Pavilion of Turkey at the Venice Biennale. Described as a 904 page ‘mail-order catalogue’ it is her largest photographic project, presenting 451 of her photographs (from 1993 to 2007) in 15 categories in one book. Each image was made freely available online as a digital file that could be downloaded from a website during the exhibition. The work pays homage to the notion of an artist book, or an exhibition in book format and the democratisation of art through publishing and digital technologies. It might also be seen as a self-made retrospective or a personal archive made public.

More recently she has exhibited a series of unique reference libraries that represent every newspaper published in one country, on a single day. The newspapers are organised alphabetically by their titles and presented as a series of black, hardback volumes that can be browsed freely whilst on display. The spine of each volume is embossed with the date of the collection, which is also the title of the work. This ongoing project has been realized thus far in Turkey, ‘28.08.2010’; Switzerland, '14.01.2011’; 20 Arabic speaking countries ’02.11.2011’; Cyprus ’29.06.2012’; the United Kingdom ’04.09.2014’ and Germany ’11.08.2015’.

This practice of making an archive and mapping a chosen territory – revealing something of its culture, values and self-image – can be identified in other projects. The Library of Spirits Part I: Romania’ (2013), is the first in a series of works that explore a clandestine yet widespread culture of home-distilling alcohol. It comprises a series of wall mounted shelves bearing 115, 100ml glass bottles. Each bottle contains a different alcoholic drink and each is labeled with the name of the person that made it, some details of the distillation and Cennetoğlu’s ‘Contact Spirit’ (whoever or whatever provided her link to the source). When it was first presented, in Bucharest, it was accompanied by a free, self-service bar that offered the spirits for consumption in their original bottles – an array of plastic soda, juice and water bottles that had been refilled. The Library of Spirits Part II: South Korea was made in 2014 for the 10th Gwangju Biennale. Cennetoğlu is currently working towards Part III: Germany for the Fellbach Triennial of Small-Scale Sculpture.




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