Interview by Oktay Tutuş

We conducted an interview at Art Basel this year with :mentalKLINIK, which consists of Birol Demir and Yasemin Baydar.

Yasemin: Giving interviews causes me a lot of stress. Many things are causes for stress; interviewing is just one of these. When I give interviews, it’s as if I have to stop time and look at the past. I don’t like looking at the past. I prefer looking at the present, living in the present, and capturing the past and future within it. Perhaps I feel like I’m being put to a test in every interview for this reason. Are the things I have so far thought consistent? If they are consistent, it’s scarier anyway… Within all these thoughts, I must review my own thoughts, what I did, my work, and my life, thus the interviews we give create breaking points in our production.

Birol: What sort of pleasure do you think following someone else’s time is ? I mean, they both want to get to know you, and they want to be with you within the time you make. Thus, there is a large likelihood that interview format has been the most read section in publications.

Y: Following became the most important action. How many people do you follow on Twitter, Facebook, and similar places; how many people follow you, and how much do you write? It’s very quantified. I think following your own time and someone else’s time has to do with living, thus someone else’s time and your time overlap. The concept of being everywhere at all times, omnipresence or ubiquity, describes the person of today and their lifestyle very well. Thus, relationships, perceptions, and values are changing, and brand new forms of behavior are emerging.

B: What do you think the reader wonders about when interviews are conducted with artists like us, who work as a duo?

Y: Every state of being a pair is a different experience; it can be mired in conflict, or it could be harmonious. I don’t know what the reader wants, but ours might be a little confusing.

B: Yes, for us, it’s conflict, tension, and harmony. We experience all of these intertwined, and there is no rhythm to it.

Y: Perhaps because we don’t work in a very planned manner.

B: Yes, because we actually look at the same things every minute, or because we see different things.

Y: We don’t have a single method; we work without a method.

B: Every time we get up, that day starts anew. We try to find a road again, as if we never worked together before.

Y: Every work and project sets its own system and method. For some, we work physically with a very concentrated bodily force, and for others, without touching anything. Thus, every method changes a lot depending on the character of the work we are doing, in my opinion.

B: Do you remember? How had the PuFF project, robots, and glitter exhibited at Art Basel 40 and Art Unlimited two years ago come together?

Y: Years ago, we had seen the robot brooms in a sales catalog on a plane, and we thought it was a fantastic idea.

B: I saw it first.

Y: No, I saw it.

B: No, you’re mistaken; it was I.

Y: I saw it first.

B: Are you sure?

Y: I’m sure.

B: Well then, how did we produce this work after that?

Y: I don’t remember so clearly… I think you thought of the glitter, cleaning, and dust.

B: Where’d the glitter come from?
Y: From your arabesque tastes… [They laugh]

B: Yes, that could be so.

Y: Sometimes you say the feminine things, and I choose those that are masculine. Because I don’t like working physically, I choose the robots, and you the sparkliness.

B: What about DoubleCherry?
Y: From the woman’s earrings.

B: Ah, yes, the woman at the table next to us. But I was the one who liked her.

Y: I liked the earrings, but you related them with us.

B: I converted it for us because it was a very surprising thing, and it looked quite beautiful on the woman.

Y: Yes, it was lovely—straw hat, cherry earrings…

B: Where did we see her?

Y: At Balıkçı Sabahattin [a fish restaurant].

B: Quite interesting, I had never engaged in thought looking backward like this.

Y: Here we have turned back, don’t you see? We have memories too.

B: How did the “Sliver” series start?

Y: The Slivers are the fusion of the world of industrial products we reached during our search for materials while preparing the dual occupation exhibit and, of course, the era in which we followed Tül Akbal Süalp’s doctoral classes. It coincided exactly with a period in which practice was intertwined with theory.

B: Yes, so far as I can remember, Tül’s theory she described as “Imaginary Subject,” and the texts we read and films we watched in class throughout the year.

Y: We were constantly talking about the idea of the lack of an adhesive; there is something missing and things can’t hang on to one another. The possibility to be multipartite, with multiple options and categorized, to again be multiple yet heteretopical in today’s world determined the aura of the Silver series.

B: Today, we talk of subjects trapped in the surface.

Y: We’re not debating whether this is good or bad; we are talking about a world that is on the surface and doesn’t actually leave much of a trace. We can see the traces of today as data. Data recorded in flux can be related and manipulated by data miners many times in various forms. Just as we have no belief in historiography, I look at the excavations to be made from the future to the present with suspicion already.

B: Flux?

Y: Lives in flux continue, and if we are to speak of being societal there, societalizations sparkle up suddenly like lightning, and then they disappear very quickly.

B: Like fireworks, actually.

Y: Like fireworks, like confetti… Why is heavy confetti thrown at political celebrations, openings, and politicians’ speeches when we look at them today? Fleeting promises flow away in the lightness of celebration in the moment’s energy.

B: What does art promise?

Y: I mostly think that we believe in making and continuing without being tripped up by the generalization of art, because we exist for a reaction to the time in which we live—we’re exhibiting a reflex.

B: Yes, in fact, we’re exhibiting side effects.

Y: We return to the same point; corporatization bugs us and stresses us a lot; the idea of being trapped in a single world is distressing.

B: We do our work without being caught up by limitations of form and category. We are concerned with expanding the dimensions of perception; for that, perception is what first determines the work’s form and dimensions. So the viewer’s perception and the idea to work to his or her perception constantly renew the aesthetics, dimensions, volume, and material of our work, perhaps.

Y: We could say that we reject making art that just sees, that just activates the sense of sight.

B: We want what first appears to be suspected. We provoke suspicion.

Y: We always inject the suspicion that the reality that is being looked at or the thing being looked at is not itself. Of course, today’s new conception of reality, in which technology and the virtual world is fused with the physical world, provokes us as well.

B: The dialogue within the exhibit changes place frequently for this reason; we have amassed quite a few viewers who have discovered this feeling.

Y: Because we can’t arrive at the idea that there is rightness in everything we do, we’re not after a style either. In fact, we always actually make a suspicious relationship with what we do ourselves. So the idea of meeting viewers’, buyers’, museums’, and curators’ expectations is a very discomforting idea. Perhaps this is why we don’t pursue a style—we don’t want to give expectations to anyone.

B: This is actually the reflection of time upon itself…

Y: Always being overflowing with the feeling that we missed the moment, and not just meeting expectations, but creating the unexpected and shocking, widening the distance even. Maybe that’s why our process of cognition took so long. But I still don’t want this to be a process of acceptance.

B: We don’t want it.

Y: Yes, we were a duo. Gilbert & George are a duo too; interestingly, every duo has its own world, a different world.

B: Like with Felix Gonzales Torres.

Y: In his art, Felix Gonzales starts out with an idea of duality that comes from his own life; he doesn’t actually produce together, but he speaks on the singularity of the love he feels for the person before him. There is a singularity in Gilbert and George too—moving together, we are together too, but it’s also like we’re not together; something emerges that is neither you nor me and neither what you think nor what I think. This is sometimes 80 percent Birol and 20 percent Yasemin, and sometimes 70 percent Yasemin and 30 percent Birol, we don’t know for sure.

B: But I do know that I’m the best.

Y: You’re always the best.

B: Don’t you think I am?

Y: You’re fabulous.

B: You too.

Y: Thanks.