Will the dog die in the books

All dogs die (eBook, ePUB)

Süddeutsche Zeitung | Discussion from October 13th, 2020Very beautiful
The artist Cemile Sahin joins the
second time in the literature business
Cemile Sahin doesn't think much of the German book market. "Super-conservative," said the artist in January in Spex-Podcast. Things are not complicated in their books. There are some and there are others: opponents. That goes down well. Sahin's debut “Taxi” was only published by Korbinian Verlag last autumn, and the Mainz Academy for Science and Literature will award her the Alfred Döblin Medal on November 5th. Welcome to the establishment.
Sahin's second book, “All Dogs Die”, is read by many as an attempt to give language to violence. It is set in a skyscraper in the west of a country where people from the east of the same country have escaped. Displaced from a state that collectively puts them under terrorist suspicion in order to legitimize its own practices of persecution, torture and violence. In nine monologues, Sahin lets nine people tell their fate. Nine variants of state terrorism. A red colored page and the blurred black and white shot of a deserted parking deck separate the episodes in the same way. The only difference: the specified (English) time.
Cemile Sahin is a Kurd. After she was born in Wiesbaden in 1990, her parents moved to Dersim for four years. The name is a symbol for the Kurdish trauma, for massacres and forced relocation, for cultural oppression and for resistance. The Armenians, the Kurds, dealing with the opposition: Do & gbreve; an Akhanl & inodot; whose unfortunately not yet translated novel “Fas & inodot; l”, which is exactly the opposite of Sahin's experience of torture, is literary and speaks in his book “Arrest in Granada “(Kiepenheuer & Witsch) about a fatal, for everyone toxic memory gap in Turkish society.
Even if the stories in Sahin's book are not related to the situation of the Kurds, “All dogs die” fits the politically clearly positioned column “Orient Express”, which Sahin and the author Ronya Othmann for the taz wrote as a memorial on the politics of memory, read as an activist appeal.
But if you read the book like this, you have to say: It was not literarily successful. The shock moments were too striking: “He put a dog collar on me. He wrapped the end of the chain around a piece of wood twice and hammered it into the earth next to the hut. Then he squeezed me into the dog house. "
Too unclear whether testimony should be given here or testimony invented. Too simple statements like: "In prison the guards forget that they are people and they forget that the prisoners are people." And too ignorant of Sahin's gesture of the long tradition when it comes to telling stories of torture and violence, and by the way also towards those affected, whose individuality is leveled out by the language of the author.
But Cemile Sahin does not see herself as an author. She studied art in London and Berlin. So what lead does it lead you on if you don't see the book as a book and the stories it tells not as a story? A good opportunity to take a different perspective: Cemile Sahin is one of over 100 Berlin artists to whom Berghain, which was paralyzed by Covid-19, opened its doors. Completely without museum architecture and virtually without special lighting, works from the studios of the Berlin bohemians fit into the industrial architecture of the cult club at Ostbahnhof. Focus: conceptual art.
If you enter the club under the motto "Tomorrow is the question" proclaimed by the action artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, in the foyer you push past the screaming fragments of Norbert Bisky and enter the dim anteroom, which is open to the dance floor, where a rusted Atlantic buoy billows over you in the originally reproduced rhythm of the swell: Julius von Bismarck bows with the mute sea vibes in front of the disused Berghain, but with the soundscape of the Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh, and comments on lockdown, climate crisis and asylum policy. The combination of aesthetic and critical awareness sets the tone for the tour, at the end of which one is led into the large hall behind the Berghain bar.
The work of Cemile Sahin should now also be on view here. The gaze is first caught by Julian Charrière's burning fountain. A video work that dominates the hall and corresponds to the buoy outside. You go down and up a steel staircase and are finally led into the basement in front of another screen, on which a feather-light, white ceiling is lowered onto a bright blue swimming pool owned by the Berliner Bäderbetriebe. It is said that this is the work of Cemile Sahin. One stands and is amazed: “Taxi” and “All dogs die” characterize a syntax like the popping of boot heels, an aggressive, demanding and provocative beat. And now this silence in light blue? Pretty dialectical.
In fact, the beautiful floating comes from Shirin Sabahi. Cemile Sahin's work hangs directly above the stairs that lead into the hall. Because the view from the burning fountain was captured, you walk blindly past “All dogs are dying, 2020 9 prints on alu dibond”. The nine identical parking levels with the different times, which also structure the book, hang on coarse-linked steel chains. Sahin should like the confusion, because what becomes so clear is the question: What do you see when it is claimed that Sabahi's work is that of Sahin? And what do you not see when a burning fountain draws your gaze? What do these nine parking deck situations, which are reminiscent of crime films or surveillance videos, tell you when different times are next to them? And what do the pseudo-documentary monologues (“Write that down.”) Have in common with the parking decks? Well, the schematic, as Murat, one of Sahin's characters, puts it: “Soldiers hunt us down, in streets, in apartments. (...) Everyone understands that. That is immediate. This is where a story begins. ”As in“ Taxi ”, it is about the question of how narratives, or shall we say: expectations manipulate reality. The only difference is that “All dogs are dying” asks this question directly to the reader, without the intervening peep-show of fiction.
It's still striking, maybe a bit banal. But this point of view also gives the text a twist that moves it away from the demands of documentation and towards reflection on which experience of violence is considered valid because it fits into the narrative. And which one doesn't. The reception of “All Dogs Die” shows that this reflection is necessary.
Cemile Sahin: All dogs die. Structure Verlag, Berlin 2020, 239 pages, 20 euros.
A syntax like popping
of boot heels,
a provocative beat
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