CONCEPTS OF IMAGES ARE HAUNTING US
HURRIYET DAILY NEWS
OCTOBER 23, 2018
:mentalKLINIK, an artist duo from Istanbul composed of Yasemin Baydar and Birol Demir, who lives and works in Brussels now, once again marked its sign with three simultaneous exhibitions in Europe. Shows in Brussels, Vienna, and Belgrade gather both new and previous artworks focusing on different themes around technology, social media, internet, codes, attention economy, psychology and how the perception of happiness change in world. In some way they want us to discover how life with technology and on the Internet develops and in another way they want us to become fully aware of the effects of this culture. However, their power of creativity is not only creating works around these themes, but it is also how they present these works to the viewer. For them, artworks are just a presentation, a vessel (just like language humans use to communicate). :mentalKLINIK’s works let us discover the broad language of the world we are not aware of in our daily lives.
‘‘We define ourselves as Bridge-generation. We have born in the 20th century but began creating works in the 21st century. The first :mentalKLINIK exhibition was in 2000,’’ said :mK. :mentalKLINIK’s works are a passage between the 20th century and 21st century. They believe their works are a transition from their generation to this generation.
‘‘We do not mean to exalt technology, but on the contrary, we try to show people how technology affects us in the physical world,’’ said :mK
That’s why the works of the duo are controversial, provocative and almost seductive. These artworks are destined to give the viewer deep thoughts on the life we are living and maybe the dark side of the contemporary life, which may be perceived as a good life fantasy, technology, accelerated capitalism, hyper-connectivity and desire.
However, it is not easy to gather all of these notions in one exhibition. That’s why they work carefully and meticulously. Artist duo said :mentalKLINIK’s ‘mental’ part is Yasemin and ‘klinik’ is Birol Demir, but they also might shift. Together they create something that is desirable though, and somehow they position :mentalKLINIK as an organism or a creation, which can exist separately from them. ‘‘Our idea is to give the torch to another artist for a while and :mentalKLINIK can continue to exist separate from us as well’’ This kind of a revolutionary idea can almost exist with the revolutionary artworks. The duo shows us details that we encounter in everyday life but are not aware of, such as the absurdity of social media language, the seductive world of marketing. ‘‘We use a high-speed camera in our video works. Some Ads are also made with this technique. It is forbidden to use this camera more than a few seconds, cause it affects how we feel, how we think and our body. And that’s what :mentalKLINIK is looking for, The high-speed camera works are taking the viewer into the artwork and create layered scenery and affects the erotic body.
AESTHETICS OF CELEBRATION
In :mentalKLINIK’s works there is always an aesthetic of celebration. In most of their famous works such as Moet, (large-scale twist off tops from champagne bottles that lay strewn on the floors) or Whiff (taken with the high-speed camera technique video), shiny walls, fluorescent lights... Somehow all of these works are reminding us that there is a celebration. However, there is no subject or object. You cannot see who is celebrating what. You can only see the end or the moment of celebration. We do this on purpose, said :mK nothing that the important thing about celebration is its aesthetics. According to the duo, there is a therapeutic way of watching Whiff. ‘‘In this sense, we want to create a feeling of slowing down in this fast life we experience each day and In fact, we are celebrating a beginning of an end.’’ said the :mK
Language is an essential part of :mentalKLINIK’s works. Their exhibition’s name ‘Obnoxiously Happy’ is also proving this. They provoke the audiance by using oxymorons and show people how two unrelated words stand together and create a new meaning. This is also a significant effect on social media according to the duo. As it changes everything, it also changes the language we use, they said.
The language and the #hashtags takes the viewer to the images and media. The duo follows each issue of Time magazine. In a way the magazine is a dominant player in this media world creating new concepts and perception of American politics on the world and changing strategies of the economy by manipulating its readers. The headlines and the cover image is the main power of the magazine. The duo, on the other hand, likes to show the irony behind this by sticking different (shiny and childish) stickers on the magazine. ‘‘Working on this is almost like therapy for us,’’ said :mK adding that they do not work on each cover only the ones that they see as important and influential. However, it is fair to say they also do not believe the power of media as they define the press is also a code that is given to us in the world.
PROFILE SERIES AND GOOD LIFE FANTASY
We all get used to hear and see made up words on social media and on the Internet. Since we had Twitter or Instagram, people are doing everything they can to define themselves with labels. These labels are a concern of :mentalKLINIK. That’s why they started to create profile series in 2015. ‘‘We believe that we are living in an era where the language is very dominant in our lives. Maybe people do not read, but people write, and the text is open to codes and brave. People love to define themselves with made up or real words such as frenemy, religious, celebritytwit, , etc...’’ In a way :mentalKLINIK feed itself from the creativity of these words and in another way they would like to show the viewer how humans are destined to get recognition out of these profile words. ‘‘This precarious lifestyle drives everyone to design themselves again and again. So, a person becomes both subject and object at the same time while being datafied,’’ said :mK.
Behind all of these, there is a desire to be recognized. This is a part of a good life fantasy, according to :mK. The duo, on the other hand, believe in good life is only to be aware of the environment we are living in and what is happening around us. It is a must to be aware these times, said :mK and added each word serves as a code and Internet industry giants are just looking for these codes, and each person is only a data in the system.
Among all these dark sided works people are having fun at :mentalKLINIK shows. For example, their current exhibition at Brussels attracted many visitors. ‘‘There are two sides of :mentalKLINIK shows,’’ said :mK, you can have tremendous fun in it and add selfies to your good-life fantasy, or you can see the dark side of the system. It is only a matter of how images turn into a concept in your mind. ‘’