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Cemre Yeşil Gönenli: Hayal & Hakikat (Dream & Fact)—A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment (2020)

3. June 2021 @ 10:00 - 13. June 2021 @ 20:00

Copenhagen Photo Festival 2021 presents one of its solo exhibitions as part of the FRAMING IDENTITY focal points: Hayal & Hakikat: A Handbook of forgiveness & a Handbook of punishment by the artist Cemre Yesil Gönenli.

Hayal & Hakikat (translated as Dream & Fact) is an installation inspired by the publication titled A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment by Cemre Yeşil Gönenli.

The book takes the form of two booklets of archival photographs which can be viewed side by side. They depict the hands of prisoners from the early 20th century, drawn from the photograph albums of Abdul Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Obsessed with crime fiction, the Sultan was moved by pseudo-scientific information he read in a novel that “any criminal with a thumb joint longer than the index finger joint, is inclined to murder.” In the 25th year of his reign he ordered all murder convicts to be photographed with their hands visible, in preparation for a planned amnesty.

The images have been categorized; those chained with iron bracelets and those without. The brutal gesture of cropping; as if the prisoner’s heads are cut with a guillotine, is actually a gesture to save them; not to re-record their identities as criminals; discarding their crimes whatever they were; to give them a second chance in life or perhaps to give them back their freedom. The ‘Dream’ of the title refers to the inmates’ desire for release and the ‘Fact’, their actual circumstances. The fate of the individual prisoners, awaiting the judgement or forgiveness, remains unknown as no record of the Sultan’s verdict exists.

The work becomes both; a bridge in between two different periods in history that share the absurdity of coincidental freedom and a silent protest against a political climate that killed the dreams of a younger generation.

Hayal & Hakikat is dedicated to those who are arbitrarily detained in today’s Turkey.

Cemre Yeşil Gönenli is a photographer, artist and visual storyteller who lives in Istanbul, Turkey. Her works will be exhibited on the ground floor in Frame at the exhibition park at Refshaleøen, and take the form of a jail cell. The cell consists of two rows with inmates – all with their hands visible. On one side, you have the inmates who await penalty, and on the other, the ones who await acquittal. Hence Punishment & Forgiveness. In the middle of it all, there will be two cells that you can enter. Frem there, you can experience the exhibition from the prisoners’ point of view.

Cemre Yeşil Gönenli’s exhibition is supported by Statens Kunstfond. 

The festival centre and CPF has generously been supported by Københavns Kommune, Det Obelske Familiefond og Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond.


Opening Day: 3.6: 17:00-22:00

4-6.6: 10:00-20:00

7-9.6: 12:00-20:00

10-13.6: 10:00-20:00

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3. June 2021 @ 10:00
13. June 2021 @ 20:00
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Festival Centre
Refshalevej 173c
Copenhagen, 1432 Danmark
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