Story Is … Pink Noise
Banu Çiçek Tülü’s work Pink Noise is a translation on multiple levels: the translation of the inside of the body for those outside the body, the reverberation of the outside on the inside, linguistic mistranslations of immigration between German, Turkish, and English, and gender-anchored translation of a sexually transmitted infection. While any of these modalities of translation requires a reckoning, it’s the intersection of internality and externality within the framework of Pink Noise that is compelling.
Tülü recorded a soundscape, triggered by an HPV infection. This soundscape became the acoustic material for the exhibition. In the exhibition space, the bass reverberated in the pink room in the artist’s first solo exhibition in Germany. The gesture of literally turning her body inside out resonates as the work appears to respond to the implied question: What do we expect to see of an immigrant artist in Germany, today? The installation is immersive as eyes and ears adjust to the environment that Tülü has set up: Viewers are inside without fully grasping what they are inside of and the exhibition plays with this state of being on the threshold, in transition, precarious, unstable.
In her introduction to Pink Noises (2010), the author of interviews with sound artists, Tara Rodgers articulates her intention as a feminist intervention in historiography to both look at what feminisms can do for electronic music cultures and to consider what sound can offer to feminist concerns. Rodgers posits sound as movements: deep listening can cultivate, situating feminist movement as simultaneous sounding and deep listening.
Crucially, Tülü’s use of “pink noise” in the singular responds to Rodgers’ second concern, as the soundscape that we hear in the space is a transformative interpretation of what sound can do for sensing the world differently with feminist concerns. The corporeal experience of the installation, blurring the distinction between the inside of the body with the outside, reminds viewers/listeners of just how public our bodies are while also reminding of the sharedness of the experience of inhabiting that body. As such, as Tülü tunes into her own body and her own experience, the presentation of that experience as a sound installation circumvents language to produce a transfer of the experience.
In one of the sound components of the installation, whispers of language are used. The use of the whisper by the artist again points to that assumed boundary between bodies as the presence of a whisper is an immediate reminder of distances between bodies, mouths, and ears, even breaths. The intimacy of this gesture of remixing pieces of language highlights the experience of processing language, especially in frail states of receiving healthcare. The alienation of not seeing a body in relation to the whispers or rather the spectrality of the whispers adds to this sense of navigating the boundaries of a situation that we sense that we know and yet are separated from.
Tülü’s work thus functions as a gentle and poignant testimony: it is a testimony to her experience as an immigrant woman from Adana in Southern Turkey living in Berlin, navigating the healthcare system with an STI, a testimony of her narration, a testimony of our listening, and a testimony of where we are now as a society, all of which are intermingled, entangled, infinitely incomplete yet crucially resonant and reverberant.
—Merve Ünsal, Story Is … curator, Dec. 2023
Banu Çiçek Tülü (Adana/Turkey, 1984) is an artist, researcher and DJ with a background in urban design from South-East Turkey based in Berlin. She develops her ideas and research by using sound as a primary medium and sonic methodologies.
Merve Ünsal is an artist who lives and works in Istanbul and Santa Cruz, California. She works around methods of tuning in. She thinks through the media of photography, video, radio, sound, performance and site-specific installations.