2008 Text by Felix Ruhöfer (ENG)


The question of social, cultural and personal identity seems to rest primarily on the underlying parameters of subject formation. The difficulties in critically questioning the construction of both historical and current identities thus always makes reference to the backdrop of the referential context of subject and world and in so doing repeatedly points to the paradox of considering these two fields of reference singularly and in isolation. In this field, the interwoven image of identity, consisting of diverse cultural, psychological, social and historical structures and which is based on an unstable, repeatedly questioned image of the subject, always remains a variable that evolves through process.

In the context of the multiform destructions of the pruported uniform experience of the subject, which led to a justified mistrust of the idealistic concept of an autonomous subject within the humanities in the course of the 20th century, identity, the cultural, social and historical shaping of the individual, comes across as the superstructure of subject formation.
Identity conveys, even more than the highly developed ramifications and motivations of the emergence of the subject, a useful and visible point for accessing a ‘state of being identical’ which has been given tangible form. As cultural, social and even political identity is mostly conceived collectively, what remains for this concept is always the non-elidible residue of that ‘state of being identical’, against which, at this point, we can argue together with Adorno against Hegel that ambivalence itself becomes obvious as an agency that opposes subsumption as the catalyst of experience, an experience which recognizes the contradictions and fields of tension of something like ‘identity’ and allows them to be felt as such.

“The stance in question is that of ‘intolerance of ambiguity’, namely of something that cannot be cleanly subsumed; at the end turning against the open, against that which no agency has already decided, against experience itself.”1

What we understand as identity is that which becomes, or at least can become, visible and collective from the constitution of the subject of the individual, which cannot be clearly recognized. It is that which is the case, is a fact, exists as such, as being, as case, a ‘be-cause’.

Özlem Günyol and Mustafa Kunt’s works are mostly based on a skepticism vis-à-vis any matter-of course approach to identity. They opt for an open understanding of the term in the face of standardization processes and social and cultural influences on identity. The element of the ambivalent,as opposed to a ‘state of being identical’, is repeatedly evident in the art of both Günyol and Kunt and simultaneously makes reference to its process-like character and the need to rely on individual parts, on experience itself, when formulating identity. In their formally highly heterogeneous artistic practices, they question and dismantle images of collective and individual identity. At the same time, they inquire into the possibilities of thinking of the intermediary spaces that tangible as identities form. And they do so in different, more open and more complex ways than people generally do.
In their art, the adoption and obfuscation of mass-media representations and the complex study of norms which manifest themselves in verbal communicative forms develop a broad horizon for the critical reflection of current social questions of cultural and national belonging. As such, the meaning of language, symbols and information communicated via the media as well as their connection to culturally encoded patterns of understanding are recurring motifs in their artistic work.

Distance, proximity and the question of the representation of individual and collective identity become clear as themes which pervade our lives in various ways.

1 Theodor W. Adorno: Ästhetische Theorie, Frankfurt, 1993,
Original (1970), Seite 176
1 Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, first published
in German 1970



Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt
64 Seiten, 4-farb Druck
mit Texten von Felix Ruhöfer, Fatos Ustek und Denise Koch
Gestaltung: Lukas Schneider
ISBN 978-3-98124870-8