False Horse, 2016

resin, paper, metal, soil


“False horse” comes from the term of a camouflage method that was used by French soldiers during World War I against Germany.  As the story goes, during the war which went on for years the terrain between two sides, so-called no man’s land, came to resemble a barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland. The challenge was to sneak out as close as possible to the enemy’s side to observe, spy or place a sniper without being seen while everything around them was obliterated until the entire landscape was just a flat expanse of charred dirt and corpses. The French soldiers had an idea to disguise themselves as a dead thing. So they built hollow papier-mache replica of the dead horse that was shot a few days before on the terrain between two sides.

Even though it is inspired by a happening at war, my personal approach to this work is more connected with the feeling of hiding, not being seen. It is made out my visa documents that have been asked by the Austrian authorities during my resident permit application. It contains all the personal information about me such as; birth certificate, criminal records, bank accounts both mine and my parents, proof of all the property that is owned by my parents, old visas, insurance, old passports, school diplomas and so on. On the one hand they might seem like the things that represent, define me but on the other hand, they do not actually contain any real, sincere information about who I really am, my personality. They are only the things that I used to disguise my real self under as I move around bureaucracy. It is a shell that is shiny and polished with bank accounts, diplomas – proof of all the things that make me valuable to enter this country. As I am using it as a shelter which I don’t intend to stay for long, it would protect and finally get me in. Since the process of the resident permit takes up to 6 months, this situation left me with no particular home for more than a year. Constant moving between cities and not knowing how things would work out made me feel very out in the open with no protection and certainty. This documents in a way would be the only things that I could count on to take me to the next home.

The materials also led the way during the process. As I chose resin to build the papers together, it also gave a transparent, sticky, polished look. On the way, the stickiness of the resin made the soil mix with the papers as I worked outside in the garden. So all together it also becomes a part of the actual landscape between the real borders which can be placed in the middle of the no man’s land with its dirty, polished and unstable look during the current situation of the border crisis. As much as it looks like the structure is holding itself, it is maintained by the skeleton-like metal wraps in the hollow inside since the paper makes the whole structure very unstable almost it could be destroyed with a little force.
— Cansu Ergün