A challenging show by contemporary artist Burak Delier exploring the overlaps and disconnects of capitalism and contemporary artistic practices is currently on display at the Outlet//Independent Art Space in İstanbul’s Tophane neighborhood.
Delier’s show, titled ‘I slowly come to discover that it is more meaningful and subversive to engage in experimental investigations on art than carrying out some self-content, easily commoditized anarchist gestures,’ runs until April 23 at Outlet
The first thing that strikes the visitor in this show is the alteration of the usual business and exhibit spaces in the gallery in a performance piece titled “At Work.” Delier brings the office together with the people working in it to the entrance of the gallery while converting the office space on the second floor of the building for one of his art projects.
According to Delier, art appreciation was traditionally recognized as a leisure activity that one engaged in after work or on weekends. “These were the times during which people enriched and cultivated themselves. In the contemporary world, however, the conditions of business life changed drastically with the emergence of home offices and irregular working hours. Leisure time was transformed into a part of production and, accordingly, leisure time activities became values people put on their resumes. Normally in this gallery, the second floor is the working area and downstairs houses the display areas. When I brought upstairs downstairs, the activities in this working area became a performance itself,” the artist explains in an interview with Today’s Zaman.
Reflecting the ways in which the business and art worlds are intertwined, the performance is connected to a workshop titled “Required Skills” conducted by the artist on the basis of the idea that an individual markets himself or herself as a product or label in the contemporary world just like an artist. The participants in the workshop attempted to find out whether the profiles of artists overlap with the profiles of potential employees by analyzing the qualities cited in 100 randomly chosen job advertisements.
Selling overall performance in life
Delier emphasizes that today not just artists, but every single person must perpetually improve themselves. “What one sells today is not just a service, but also his or her overall performance in life. In this sense, there is a major overlap between art and capitalism because this has been the case in the art world from the very beginning, anyways. The persona has always been very significant. Of course, the work has also been very important, but the performance of the artist has always been the determinant,” he says, adding that conditions in the business and art worlds have a profound similarity in terms of being creative and critical and offering flexible work hours.
Another thought-provoking work in the show is an installation consisting of three parts: two videos showcasing the feasibility research steps of a product titled “Parkalynch” that Delier produced in 2007 for the 10th İstanbul Biennial and a meeting-room-like space separated by glass walls in which the outcomes of the research are available to the visitor. “Four years ago, I founded ‘Tersyön,’ which is an imaginary corporation that produces a special jacket that protects the owner during mob attacks. In 2007, Turkey witnessed several mob attacks against various groups. My initial aim was to offer a debate through ‘consumption democracy’ by making such a product. This time, I am showcasing the feasibility research, how the slogan for the product is determined, how it is designed, how the market research is conducted. I wanted to give visibility to these kinds of processes,” Delier notes, pointing out that in the contemporary world production is not enabled through workers in factories, but through many other production methods. “All of the individuals working in the social sciences have become a tool of capitalism. I aimed to show all these mechanisms and how contemporary capitalism operates subtly,” he explains.
Finally, on the second floor of the gallery, the artist exhibits the questionnaire, the book and other materials of the production process of his work “We Will Win,” which he produced for the Taipei Biennial. In 2008, Delier conducted a site-specific work in a small village that is facing an ongoing urban renewal process. In collaboration with the residents of this area, the artist produced a large banner on which the words “We Will Win” were written. In the current show, however, he is investigating what kind of an effect this work created at the biennial through the responses to the piece by managers, artists, curators, audience and staff.
Delier’s show, titled “I slowly come to discover that it is more meaningful and subversive to engage in experimental investigations on art than carrying out some self-content, easily commoditized anarchist gestures,” will run through April 23 at Outlet.
Delier has also contributed to the “Where Fire Has Struck” exhibition, which marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and runs until April 22 at the Depo art space in Tophane.