But Who is Behind :mentalKLINIK?

:mentalKLINIK is an artist duo founded in Istanbul in 1998 by Yasemin Baydar and Birol Demir, whose multimedia and conceptual laboratory  -both vintage and high-tech- has been developing since Istanbul and more recently in Brussels for the last three years. OBNOXIOUSLY HAPPY is the first exhibition in Belgium that brings together fifteen years of their activity, as an introspective rather than a retrospective. The exhibition presents a symptomatic set of the multifaceted approach of their universe that constantly blurs the borders. :mentalKLINIK is an allusion to the laboratory where practice and theory coexist, as the mind (:mental) refers to the mind and the KLINIK to the practice.

The oxymoron (the figure of speech which associates two terms which exclude each other) is the central focus of their work; not only through the text, such as the title of the exhibition, but also through the style in which these artists shamelessly set back to back references to conceptual art, minimalism and the pop universe, as well as entertainment.

OBNOXIOUSLY HAPPY questions the fantasies linked to happiness and optimism advocated in the contemporary capitalist culture of the cult of success, as well as the blurring of boundaries between subjects and objects. For :mentalKLINIK, the oxymorons "reveal a deep duality in our world and the complex feelings that people are usually unable to express." Screaming out using La Patinoire Royale, its role as amplifier, intensifier of the experience, in a world more than ever dominated by language. They mix paradoxes and humor, playing with the current world affairs. The duo straddles with undisguised dexterity the invisible political strategies and the social dynamics with ultra-contemporary devices of an obvious lightness and simplicity. The exhibition convenes -in no chronological order- all of their playful, violent and abrasive vocabulary that continuously twists glamor, rock or post-punk references through a selection of iconic pieces and new productions. It is a whole work of encryption to which these artists summon us, between the true and the false, the artificial and superficial, as if everything were a matter of falsification.

:mentalKLINIK speaks about the manipulation of individuals through their magical and hypnotic atmosphere, the visual saturation of incessantly flowing images and words in an era of new technologies and social networks. A flow without beginning or end. The positive, ultra-addictive energy that emanates from the works carries us away at first, but behind this attractive, electric and glamorous façade, there appears another world of far more disturbing meanings. Artists re-appropriate the sparkling and authoritative visual language of the media and night spheres in a climate of sensory hyperstimulation generated by the multiple neon signs, slogans, light beams, mirror balls and confetti that make the exhibition space vibrate. We project in an indecisive atmosphere and context. Is it before or after the evening that we are located?

The duo continually creates new aesthetic forms in heterogeneous materials by playing on our unanimous attraction to glittering and seductive objects, which, through the magic of commodity fetishism, making their appearance as robotic vacuum cleaners spitting glitter, deflated toys that become masks, magazine covers hijacked by emojis, headlines, neon lights or reflective surfaces that catch our eye, rocking and flattening the space and inevitably integrating the viewer. To start, this game requires several players and the KLINIK interacts with a minimalist ideology and series. Impossible to escape from it.

So, are you ready?

Jérôme Sans