Rehan Miskci
All Who Came Before Me

pigment prints on voile fabric and clear film
60 x 50 x 20 inches 

All Who Came Before Me is an examination of bureaucratic invisibility. These keywords simply define a state of perpetual crisis of a cultural minority, one that also the artist belongs to. The work mainly derives from a personal photographic archive and may be perceived as one of the many possible interpretations of this archive. The curiousity lies in how bureaucratic portraits are being treated physically and how they are eventually re-contextualized.

The piece aims to perform an ancestral reflex, one that is about digging and excavating about who inhabited the same spaces as us, who came before us. The artist concentrates on a group of recently discovered archival documents that recorded her family's passage through various governmental institutions and ceremonies, dating all the way back to the transition from the Ottoman Empire to modern-day Turkey. An inter-layering of the artist’s family members' portraits taken from these government-issued documents along with hers is presented where each individual peeks through an exhausting accumulation of forced bureaucratic gestures. These gestures not only grant that person an official existence, but also damage or obscure the physical integrity of the given photographs. This collection of unrecognizable portraits eventually represents part of the experience of growing up as Armenian in a Turkish-dominant culture.

This work was first presented as part of Bronx Calling: Fifth AIM Biennial at The Bronx Museum.
The exhibition catalogue