Based in Istanbul and begun in 1998, :mentalKLINIK is comprised of artists Birol Demir and Yasemin Baydar. Since their start, the two have mounted a number of shows with metaphorically dark frameworks, including a recent exhibition at the SCAD Museum of Art titled “Co-operation Will Be Highly Appreciated.” There, as in their work at large, :mentalKLINIK reappropriated the shiny, overbearing visual language of hedonistic commercial spheres, incorporating billboard-style signs and flashing neon club lights.
In their current show, hallucinatory mirrors and cartoon-style, mask-like sculptures are arranged around the show’s centerpiece, Moet (2015), a large-scale work resembling a glittering luxury muselet, an apparatus used to cork champagne. The installation is constructed on Candy Crash (2015), a carpet of swirling graphic lollipops and other sweets. But while the center of the room may draw the most immediate attention, it is the Airless series (2015) that most effectively utilizes :mentalKLINIK’s talent for unsettling visual parables. Appearing, at first, like deflated balloons of the type a kid might pick up at a circus, the sculptures are in fact created by applying acrylic paints to carefully formed copper sculptures. The resulting works—a crooked cartoon duck, a wide-eyed smiling face—freeze in time the moment a lighthearted plaything becomes disposable.
:mentalKLINIK’s focus, for this show, is on the “good life” fantasy—the fiction that a life, or an object, could provide anyone complete satisfaction. Whether with balloons or fine drinks, candy or toys, our culture drives us to seek out satisfaction in empty pleasures. By deflating or blowing up these fetishized objects, :mentalKLINIK continues their practice of honing in on the objects that speak to a larger political ethic, challenging their effects by looking at them head-on.
“83% SatisfactionGuaranteed” is on view at Louise Alexander Gallery, Porto Cervo, Jun. 26—Jul. 24.