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.