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Not Equal To [USA]

Not Equal To [USA] addresses language as a mediating force. The pairs of words and phrases hint at the ways in which language is often coded, reinforcing and even constructing difference: the seeming synonyms bear divergent political associations. For the installation at MASS MoCA, Çavuşoğlu added a new series of fourteen English-language pairs including “illegal” and “undocumented,” and “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays,” exhibited alongside the original twenty Turkish-language works. Between each pair is an “=” sign, indicating a sense of equivalency. The pairs’ status as synonyms is undermined, however, by the seam between the two pieces of paper, running diagonally from the bottom left to the upper right corner of each work, rendering each “=” an “” Although it functions as a line of division, this seam is also a place of repair: Çavuşoğlu employed techniques used by conservators to repair tears in paper in order to join the divided halves. By acknowledging this seam, Çavuşoğlu is able to make visible moments of translation—of border-crossing—that occur within the same tongue.


Drawing with squid ink on restored paper, 42×62 cm. Commissioned by MASS MoCA with the support of SAHA.

*Excerpt from the exhibition text by Alexandra Foradas


A grid of text-based works pair up phrases that underscore how language itself can be bent where convenient: “Exploring for energy = Drilling for oil”; “Illegal Aliens = Undocumented Immigrants”; “Work=Labor.”