Liebe (Love)
22/03-29/06/2014, we are participating in the exhibition Liebe at Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, (Ludwigshafen am Rhein/Germany).
Click here to visit Wilhelm-Hack-Museum’s webpage

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Schwanengesang (Swan Song)
Saturday , September 21, 2013, 5 pm we are participating in the performance program  Schwanengesang at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU1), (Berlin/Germany). 
Click here to visit HAU’s webpage

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The Unanswered Question. Iskele 2
7/09 – 03/11/2013, we are participating in the exhibition The Unanswered Question. Iskele 2  at TANAS and NBK (Berlin/Germany) curated by René Block.

“Since 2009 Johanna Adebäck and Merve Ertufan have been collaborating on their project ‘me | you’. As a collective they probe both searchingly and playfully the foundation and development of their interpersonal and professional relationship. In the process, the different ethnic origins of the two artists and their associated cultural categorizations become the object of study. Sociopolitical patterns of behavior and interaction are also at the center of their video performance ‘Compliments’. In a simultaneous projection the viewers face the two artists, who compliment each other in turn. Over the space of an hour, the dialogue of the two women passes through phases of friendly affection to aggressively heightened provocation. In this experiment both the psychological dynamics of interpersonal communication and the quality of their facial expressions and language are explored and pushed to their limits as conveyors of meaning.”
Click here to visit TANAS’ webpage

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Compliments

me | you: Compliments
Two channel video installation, 01:00:00 / 2012

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Installation view: “Envy, Enmity, Embarrassment”, Arter, 2013. Photo: Cem Turgay

In this video installation you see us, Merve Ertufan and Johanna Adebäck, next to each other looking towards the visitor. For one hour, we give each other compliments, the recipient of the compliment may not comment on it. In the beginning, the compliments are honest and cordial but as time passes they become sarcastic and exaggerated. While a compliment is an act of kindness, it is also a testament to what one values, admires or envies. The one-hour-long session is documented on two separate HDV tapes and played in sync without any editing.

“As audience we have the chance to adopt several positions for thinking about and understanding the structure of compliments. We may stand as an observer in the middle of this one-hour-long, uninterrupted compliment tennis, and while enjoying watching several good sets of the game, we can get to know the artists personally; what they value, what they lack, what they envy and even their strengths and weaknesses. As we watch both of them in real time, one waiting for the other to finish her compliment, positioned next to each other in closeup, we are given the opportunity to catch their momentary emotional responses by watching their facial expressions closely. We witness how they struggle not to reveal their various feelings, depending on the content and the mood of the compliments, and how they suddenly change their mind about the next compliment they’ll make. 

Another position available for the viewer, while caught in this crossfire, is that of becoming the receiver of the compliments. Although they take turns making compliments; since they’re looking directly at the camera, we could easily intercept and start to accept the compliments for ourselves. After enjoying this position for a while, the work has the potential to bring us to a self-conscious state where we suddenly take stock of what we value, desire, or envy and also how ephemeral our values are, which we can instantly change depending on the other person we are interacting with, or the latent narcissism within us.”

Part of text by Basak Doga Temur, from exhibition catalogue Envy, Enmity, Embarrassment, 2013.

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Ward Robe in Spare Oom 
10/05 – 26/05/2013, we are participating in the exhibition Ward Robe in Spare Oom at Gallery 1:10 (at Konsthall K, in Karlstad/Sweden).
Click here to visit Gallery 1:10 website

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Talk at ARTER
Transcription of the talk at ARTER with Tankut Aykut.
by Huseyin Sidar Emen at SANATATAK

Click here for the interview.

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Interview at Artful Living
Interview with Merve Ünsal on Compliments.

– “In a time when artists are expected to travel around the world, respond quickly to events, could you talk about your interaction in the development period of this work that probes the “fertile” dialog between two artists? In other words, how does the collaboration function in the production period of this work that is totally about dialog and maybe even on superficiality?”

“In order to talk about the collaboration in the production period of Compliments, we have to speak a bit about our collaborative project: me | you, which this work is a part of. Me | you project started in 2009, and we have realised several projects since then. While we both continue with our solo activities, we meet at times for this project and at those times we carry our separate interests and unique perspectives into this collaboration. Compliments has not been an exception of how we work with this project. Over the years we have managed to develop methods and tactics that make the process smoother, but we have, from the start, decided not to dissolve into a collaborative-couple. For us, it is important that each is invested in a work for their own reasons. After one comes up with an idea that the other finds interesting, it is a set of negotiations, brainstorms and division of labor.
We believe Compliments, as well as me | you, not only benefit, but also are founded on this principle. We do something together, but against each other. We have been working on the inner workings of a relationship- that of friends and colleagues, but always with a stress factor and hints of rivalry. In Compliments, as clearly stated in the title, we make a rule to say compliments to each other. Neither is allowed to comment on the received compliment, but must only reciprocate with another compliment. With the time limit of one hour (one tape-length) and the presence of the cameras, there is range of emotions and attitudes; from sincere to insincere, from denial to acceptance and all those in between.”

– “You are facing the visitors with this dialog divided into two. What was your purpose with deciphering the (much implied by all artworks) existence of the viewer with this double confrontation?”

“This work in its core is about human interaction and we wanted to offer a position from which the viewer could experience this. Although the actual recording is between the two of us, we hoped to open a possibility for the viewer to intercept the ray of compliments and maybe take some for themselves or respond to them. We wished for the experience to transcend the recording studio, and leak into the exhibition space and this was made by turning our gaze towards the audience.”
Translation by Merve Ertufan.

Click here to read the interview in Turkish 

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