me | you project started in 2009. Johanna Adebäck (Stockholm, 1982) and Merve Ertufan (Istanbul, 1985) have been collaborating on and off ever since. We have been trying to define and challenge our relationship, to discover how we relate to each other as an Other. Coming from different -but somewhat paralleled- backgrounds, we found a potential in our interaction that we want to elaborate. By experimenting with roles such as rivalry, we assume different positions and use games as tools for scrutiny. While games’ competitive nature discloses hidden structures within our interpersonal relationship, we compare ourselves in many qualities such as physical strength, knowledge, courage, etc. On a sub-level with the project as a whole, there are investigations of underlying questions of power, culture, identity and borders.
As individuals, we bear the needs to both distinguish us from others and to belong in a community. To enable this we compose an entity called ‘self’ in relation to Others. What we consider to be ‘us’ is dependent on those we interact with. Both the creation of self and self-image are manifestations of social exchange, they are constructed and re-constructed at every moment. Since we relate and compare with Others to form our own attributes, social interaction becomes the basis of our identities. In order to express these entities -to describe ourselves- we refer to words and values. We describe who we are physically, mentally and spiritually with the use of adjectives. And it is societies as a whole that decide on adjectives and assign their value, establishing a social norm.
Communication – use of verbal and nonverbal language – is the means for social interaction. A complex system of signs and symbols for expression, language, is accessible only to those who possess the cues and codes. Confusion and misunderstandings follow those with limited access to a common code-system. This rupture in communication could be nationality, class, age and etc related. Cultures nurture its members with a sense of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and a sense of what is proper. It injects an innate and integrated pattern of behavior, knowledge and belief that becomes harder to recognize in one’s own ‘self’. To disclose these patterns, a method is to bring together/compare with people from other cultures. As people from different cultures try to communicate, patterns become visible. As their respective cultures suggest dissimilar interpretations of signs and symbols, one’s intention to express something does not always translate to the other.
There is great undeniable potential in these kind of interactions. As we socialize with an Other, we become able to recognize to some extent what has been imprinted on us. This is what me | you tries to tap into.