Curated by T. Melis Golar Vision, Mission Values exhibition will open at Zilberman Selected at Piyalepaşa from March 15 to May 13, 2023. Bringing together works by Sena Başöz, Guy Ben-Ner, Burak Delier, Memed Erdener, Neriman Polat, and Pilvi Takala, the exhibition examines the effects of economic crises on corporate life, consumption habits, domestic economy, and stress management.
The notions of vision, mission, and value statement through which establishments declare their goals, purpose, ethical approach, short and long-term strategies on the way of institutionalization and the individuals who are having difficulties fulfilling their aims in the midst of any economic fall find an ironic common ground through this exhibition. These recent developments led employees, whether from the service or the manufacturing sectors that produce immense economic value, to question their working conditions and thus their private lives that were inevitably affected. In relation to the economic crisis and subsequent changes over time, corporate firms back down from their declared mission, vision, and values along with their financial plans, and likewise, the people who feel far from realizing themselves and thus begin to go through an existential crisis when considered on an individual level. Along with the desperation felt personally following economical struggles, problems such as unequal conditions, intense stress levels, and mobbing have become more apparent under these circumstances. Vision, Mission, Values narrates this system’s actors’ twisted understanding of values and perceptions over their consumption habits, work dogma*, domestic economy, and stress management.
In A Fall of the Net Bag and Two Handkerchiefs, Neriman Polat uses objects that have close relations to the economy and leaves their marks on a surface where the object itself is absent but its absence apparent, thus enabling the visitor to think over its emptiness and assessing the situation through the work. Memed Erdener participates with works that vary in medium. Through A Soundless Sentence, he attempts to make a linguistic experimentation that belongs not to culture but to nature, expressing his criticism of the current situation through this sentence. The sculptures titled What Matters Is To Eat, When You’re Full and Nothing Was Your Own Except The Few Cubic Centimetres Inside Your Skull criticize unequal income distribution, the futility of the idea of property, and loss of money as it changes hands. In Thief Letters, each letter gives over a part from the previous, thereby allowing the visitor to question these words’ meaning both on material and immaterial scales such as the state, the institution, and the individual. Sena Başöz deals with the doctrines which satisfy the desires estranged by the continuous hunger for consumption and poor living conditions with the pledge of heaven’s meta-abundance after death through the piece titled Heaven on Earth. On the other hand, Feet reminds the viewer of the surreal survival mode of human beings and its resilient act of reducing one’s own being to a lightness that floats on water in order to keep up with the hardship of life.
In The Stroker video, in an attempt to heal emotionally, improve communication, and increase productivity in the workplace, Pilvi Takala disguises herself as a worker offering touch service, laying bare the sociological and psychological sphere between people sharing a co-working space. In his series of posters WORK, LAW, YOU, ME: Two Short Routines on Work, Law and Self, Burak Delier uses sports metaphors, which are widely used in the representation of business life, as his starting point. Within the order in which work and self-discipline are imposed as the basis of success and morality, he does some indoctrination exercises in order to keep the motivation and psychology of individuals at standard level. The work points out the inadequacy of our way of facilitating work under the conditions imposed by capitalism in which our career plans, work life, and escape plans are affected. Finally, Guy Ben-Ner proves the capacity of humans to convert economic constraints into creative advantages with his video Drop the Monkey in which he intertwines his art and his life.
On one hand, the exhibition Vision, Mission, Values focuses on the individual who questions the ways of living and producing under the current economical and psychological conditions while on a larger scale, it highlights the society which tries to adapt to new conditions and derives new forms of motivations, searches for creative solutions and invents new exit ways. The works in the exhibition will identify contemporary circumstances and examine methods of escape and coping from within.
*Lafargue, P. (2020). The right to be lazy. BoD–Books on Demand.
The sculpture titled Feet is a piece that consists of two feet shaped by styrofoam blocks floating on water. It reminds the viewer of human beings’ surreal survival mode and their resilient act of reducing their own being to a lightness that floats on water in order to keep up with the hardship of life.
Heaven on Earth
Heaven on Earth is Sena Başöz’s critique on consumer society through a guerilla photo series that she has taken in a supermarket, where she depicted the group of shoppers as angels. The artist takes inspiration from the narrative of heaven as having an abundance of meta, where the passion to consume transcends life. The piece was produced during a period when shopping malls were rapidly gaining popularity and the capitalist system was under heavy criticism. The desire to own and consume resides in a very old and deep intuition; “This desire is so strong that it goes as far as the expectations after death, to depictions of heaven. Could this hunger be satisfied in the place where any demand is met immediately, in heaven? The desire may be old, but the supply is ever-transforming. People are meeting on platforms that seek ways to keep the flame of their thirst active with objects of consumption, under conditions where they are constantly under the influence of what and how they desire.
Could heaven be a kind of a supermarket where we don’t make any payments in the exits or where everything is prepaid?”
A Fall of the Net Bag
Neriman Polat brings coins, tissue paper, and net bags into the exhibition; all directly referencing economy and poverty. She impresses the shapes of these objects onto a surface where the object itself is absent but its absence apparent, thus enabling the visitor to think over its emptiness.
A Fall of the Net Bag points out the economical decline under the rain of empty nets swinging in the sky. Against a dark background, these nets float down and reveal hungry bellies and empty
A similar attitude can be found in Two Handkerchiefs. The feminine and masculine sides
of the coins leave their marks and create an abstract universe on first sight.
Formerly an object referring to wealth and the ritual of collecting money on religious holidays, it has evolved and the opposite connotation it carries today becomes remarkable. That the handkerchief is a man’s carries a criticism of financial structures, money, and power appropriations through a monolithic understanding.
Drop the Monkey
In the video Drop the Monkey, Guy Ben-Ner holds a telephone conversation with himself between Berlin and Tel Aviv. The artist showcases the recording without any edits to the original cassette; he completes his conversation with himself by traveling back and forth between the two cities. The work, which includes a dialogue that took place within a romantic relationship the artist was in at the time, finds form as a performative video. He offers an alternative to how economic limitations can be turned into advantages by using the grant he won for production of the video itself, as a method that connects him with his love in Berlin. The artwork not only projects the limits of an artist, but also points at devotion to one’s work, ethical values, being financially dependent on the art market and its dilemmas, while also showing the life of an artist as a mechanism where the personal and the professional are forever intertwined.
WORK, LAW, YOU, ME: Two Short Routines on Work, Law and Ego
Burak Delier is intrigued by the workplace posters with slogans reinforcing the desire to be successful, ambition to compete, and self-confidence. His 2014 project Economy and Faith Gymnastics, which was inspired by the motivation poster, extends this time to the work, law, and psychology relations that artist has been pondering. Five posters the artist produced under the title WORK, LAW, YOU, ME: Two Short Routines on Work, Law and Ego, are based on a metaphorical narrative of how office workers are treated in the workplace as if they
are athletes. The dubious harmony and disunity between the images and slogans examine the
contradictions and pseudo-beliefs of today’s business regime. In order to keep the motivation and psychology of individuals at a normal level, within an order where hard work is imposed as a great virtue, the artist does indoctrination exercises and presents them as a sports routine. Posters with people performing extreme moves and activities also refer to self-help teachings and mental disciplines.
Crisis and Control
The Crisis and Control photo series are images taken from the video with the same title. Its main characters are real office workers and executives who are seen in yoga poses. In the video, the characters tell their own stories about their career, work life and escape plans in physically compelling yoga positions. Their endurance and resistance in these poses, which might be both physically and mentally challenging, for such long periods, lends the video both absurdity and dramatic effect. Indeed, all this also points to the inadequacy of our ways of making things easier under the conditions imposed by today’s capitalism.
Pilvi Takala adds another to her performative videos with The Stroker. The artist initiates a service in the workplace for emotional healing, improving communication, and increasing productivity. She takes the disguise of Nina Nieminen, who provides a touching service as part of the wellbeing program at Second Home, a co-working space in London for young entrepreneurs and start-ups. In this two-week period, she continuously touches everyone in the office gently, asking with a friendly tone how they are doing. Even though she gets different reactions from different people, after a certain point most people can’t make sense of this and start to get irritated; her gesture turns into a topic of gossip. Two very humane gestures, touching and asking how one is feeling, turn problematic in this context and serve the opposite of their function. The artist ironically reveals the difficulty of expressing boundaries and the distance that needs to be kept in this work environment, unfolding different psychological and sociological layers on both the individual and communal levels.
Memed Erdener has been contemplating productiveness, the function of language, and
the ways in which objects can break loose of direct definitions. He imagines a structure where a definition is not looked up in dictionaries but added on top. The meaning of an entity can open to something new each time, and is therefore infinite. Reducing an object to a single definition by giving it a name is also a way of silencing it. The object that cannot be recognized or silenced turns into a silhouette. Silhouettes such as this speak to the viewers instead of to themselves. Memed Erdener puts forth Soundless Sentence as an attempt at returning to pictogram (hieroglyphs, ideograms) by creating a language that does not belong to culture but to nature, expressing his thoughts on the current situation through this sentence. With his desire to bring back pictograms, he revives the real expressions that were eliminated by emojis. The ambiguity in Memed’s language makes things lose their labels and supposed existence, therefore setting them free.
What Matters Is To Eat When You’re Full
Comprised of different types of spoons, What Matters Is To Eat When You’re Full is a statement on the unequal distribution of income. It brings to mind the labor exploitation of a mentality that gives with a spoon and takes with a ladle and does not hesitate to apply this unequal approach at every level from the country’s administration to the smallest enterprise.
Nothing Was Your Own Except The Few Cubic Centimeters Inside Your Skull
The piece titled Nothing Was Your Own Except The Few Cubic Centimetres Inside Your Skull is named after a sentence from the dystopian George Orwell novel, 1984. The sculpture, which depicts coins falling from different sizes of wallets, create a triangular form. This shape, which evokes Maslow’s pyramid, accentuates the transience of materials and how exchange reduces and effaces the value of money. For Memed, the real treasure lies behind thoughts, memories, and imagination. Therefore, through this sculpture, he conveys his idea on the ephemerality of property and commodity.
In this piece, each letter loses a piece of it to the one prior, and steals a piece from the subsequent. These are thief letters that correspond to the character of politics and those who put society in a difficult position by stealing. The word is a reminder of both material and spiritual exploitation at the scales of state, institution, and individual.
After the International Credit Assessment Agency Upgraded Turkey’s Credit Rating from “BB-” to “BB”
The photograph titled After the International Credit Assessment Agency Upgraded Turkey’s Credit Rating from “BB-” to “BB” is about enterprising people who are after making easy money, people who will defend the so-called values imposed by the economically powerful and won’t hesitate to give up their own as long as they can fill their pockets. The scene featuring a white-collar businessperson between two skyscrapers is a critique of vanity, definitions of success, and material satisfaction.
Exhibition Credit: Courtesy of the artists and Zilberman, Vision, Mission, Values, Zilberman Selected, Istanbul, 2023
Photo Credit: Kayhan Kaygusuz
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