Billboard Series #17:
Nora Turato

it's kinda funny how i keep needing money all the time
/ be able to see your time and complications
21/09 — 21/12/2019

Nora Turato (°1991, Croatia) reflects on the hectic (internet) culture of today. In her work, she explores language as a signifier that is constantly changing and tries, through a non-stop process of reinterpretation, to organise and organise our culture and world so that we can relate to it.

Using various but closely interwoven media, Nora Turato is building a practice in which she plays with the speed of language and the ready-made vocabulary of the Internet. Similar to Pop Art artists in the 1960s, Turato researches and reinterprets contemporary popular (internet) culture. In this way she not only develops a new relationship with consumer goods (as Pop Art did), but also with political and cultural opinions – for example about the role of women and what is expected of them in society.

Turato’s basic material is text. At first sight, these texts seem to be a seemingly random collection of sentences and a cacophony of different voices. Her texts originate from a multitude of sources, and are actually a collection of appropriated words, sentences, text fragments and quotes from film, advertising, literature, chat conversations, theatre, and social media. These are bundled in temporary cycles covering a year each time. The artist himself calls these cycles pools, and says that “each pool reflects not only the cultural climate and what is happening in the world, but also who I am dealing with and how I spend my time”.

Nora Turato processes these text pools in different ways. Fragments find their way into posters and prints with aesthetic references to the utilitarian graphic design of the post-socialist 1990s in Croatia – where she grew up, the text works of the American artist Barbara Kruger, or the warnings on cigarette packets. Each year she also makes an artist’s book that collects all the text from a pool. But Nora Turato is best known for her conjuring ghost-word performances. These are meticulously scripted, edited and adapted in advance until the rhythm, cadence and speed of the performance is perfectly in sync with the text. Turato’s acrobatic voice covers a whole gala of vocal forms, and oscillates between high, girlish singing reminiscent of radio jingles, bizarre gibberish, shouting stutter, shrill shouts, and monotonous monologues – sometimes even in different languages.

As the 17th contribution to this series of Billboards, Nora Turato makes a new work entitled it’s kinda funny how i keep needing money all the time / be able to see your time and complications. It is an image that is not immediately easy to read, and that combines two different text styles. At the bottom of the billboard, in a tightly defined block, it says “be able to see your time and complications” in a design that immediately reminds of the warnings on cigarette packets. This is combined with the text “it’s kinda funny how i keep needing money all the time” in a new font that Turato developed based on the notes she makes by hand in the margins of her scripts during the preparation of performances. By changing the scale of this handwriting to metre-high letters and moving the intimacy of the margin to billboard in public space, this new work inevitably plays with references to grafitti and its appropriation by luxury brands.

Nora Turato Billboard Series artlead
Nora Turato Billboard Series artlead





All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Michiel De Cleene

Billboard Series is a long-term art project in public space, for which every three months an artist is invited to create a new, site-specific work for a 50 m2 billboard on Dok Noord, Ghent. Through changing presentations, Billboard Series wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, reflect on the changes that this neighbourhood is currently undergoing, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.

Billboard Series is a project of artlead, together with 019. Billboard Series is curated by Thomas Caron, takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals, and is being developed with the support of the City of Ghent and the Flemish Community.

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