I don’t know if it’s with everyone. I was excited before visiting a museum or exhibition. I’m waiting for the works in the exhibition to tell me. If I turn around once in a while and can’t hear the whispers, I’ll be back. If I turn around a few times and hear nothing, I’ll be bored and leave the place. I was thrilled with the same expectation when I visited designer Constantine Greek’s exhibition at the Berlin House am Waldsey Gallery, which I visited last month. Constantine Greek is an interesting designer. After studying carpentry in England, he is pursuing a master’s degree in industrial design at the Royal Academy (RCA) in London. Returning to the city where he was born in 1991, he set up his own design office and design for well-known companies. Today, many of his designs are in major museums and collections.
Unexpected function of habit installed with box tape
The title of Constantine’s latest exhibition in Greek, which skillfully reinterprets everyday objects with a conceptual but useful lens, caught my attention: “The New Normality”. Grcic’s “new normality” forces us to think about how our perceptions of shared use of objects could change our future. In other words, in this exhibition, the Greek has made a presentation independent of the functional and useful designs that he adheres to in his professional work. The design objects of the “New Normals” have been “redesigned” based on developments that past generations could not have imagined, and we have become accustomed to in the last few decades. Thus, unusual uses have arisen from a combination of industrial objects that have similarities to us but have different functions. Grcic says about assembling it: “These are just held together, as if they were held together with duct tape.” Thus, in the exhibition, seriousness and embarrassment are combined in “an unusual naturalness”. The Greeks explained “new” and “normal”: “What is new means unexpected, when normality is built on habit.” For example, his design “General 12: Traffic” consists of two “normal” art objects, both sun. Pointing to the lounge and the chase longu consisting of each blank selfie stick (Fig. 1), these two “normal” objects today “just merge” into different functionalities, resulting in a ridiculously unexpected. But the cell phone section is empty… but what can we conclude from these designs? Although there is a humorous and funny aspect to all Greek designs, the use of “new normals” can be considered dystopian. I say dystopian because the Greek “new common” “normal” designs emphasize loneliness, distant physical relationships, in short, a life full of anxiety, a negative future.
Unusual ‘normal’ design
Before “barely holding” Grcic’s design objects, I start touring the “new normal” exhibition. As I wander through the objects of the design, stories from the past come to my mind. The first design I looked at, “General 6: Head in the Sky”, originated from the idea of helping people live a healthier and “happier” life in old age (Fig. 2). It was designed as a private open space for thinking and working. Although its connection to the building is limited by the vertical elements, the part facing the sky is kept open. Indeed, an unpleasant future in solitude comes to life in the image of man.
The “Ordinary 10: 360 ° Chair” system consists of three office chairs with a protector displaying the degree of rotation of the seating element (Fig. 3). I wonder if the Greek design was designed to provide a physically distant work environment? So, will we rely on chair measurements, not facial expressions and body language, to reopen the physical distance caused by the epidemic? For example, does a 90-degree turn represent a sketchy relationship, a 180-degree turn a face-to-face relationship, and a 360-degree turn a tangent relationship? The design offers measurement relationships. Another arrangement, “General 5: Champions”, designed for business meetings, has a glass table decorated with rear view mirrors (Figure: 4). If you want to get ahead of your peers and get ahead, you should use these rear view mirrors to safely overtake and pass. Be careful! If you try to get ahead of your coworkers without seeing them in the mirror, they may slap you badly. Unfortunately, the use of this design brings loneliness in business life. I come to another design, the name of the design object is “Normal 13: Public seating Element”, meaning park bench. The work is designed as a row with two metal seats, and is decorated with a fine nail between the seats, as if to say “No one will sit next to me” (Picture: 5).
‘Valent’s Bank’ is buried in the Marmara Sea
Grcic’s design is a lot like the storytellers say. This design is reminiscent of love stories on park benches. Love stories have even been the subject of songs on the bench. Thanks to “General 13”, I think of a story by Rafet Akez, a bohemian painter from the academy, whom we lost in 2003. On a beautiful spring night, Rafet goes to Fındıklı Park next to the academy, settles under a tree, opens the wine he has brought with him, and begins to drink. It is slowly forming, with warm winds blowing, moonlight reflecting into the sea, and waves crashing against shore. After a while, the two lovers sat on the bench in front of Rafet and started talking. After talking for a while, the lovers argue, fight and break up for some reason. Rafet, who witnessed the incident behind them, continued to drink. A little later a man is sitting in this empty bank. But soon he was startled by a roaring voice behind him: “Get off that bench!” The man turns around and calls out to the man in the dark: “What did you say?”. Rafet insisted: “I told you to get off that bench! The two lovers broke up on this bench, show respect there ”. When the man’s eyes become accustomed to darkness, he realizes that the man under the tree is his friend Rafet and says: “Are you Rafet?” Rafet doesn’t mind: “I told you to get up!” When the man replies, “Don’t be silly, Rafet, I won’t get up anywhere,” Rafet attacks the man. When the man gets up from the bench in self-defense, he takes advantage of the raft and grabs one end of the bench and the man the other. After pulling this way and that way for a while, the bench is in Rafet’s hand. Finally, Rafet says, “I can’t help you or anyone else on this bench where two lovers have broken up,” and throws the bench into the sea.
We can draw a conclusion from the story of Rafet for the design of the Greek public seat (park bench). The thorny seat in the design is of course made for the nervous among the lovers. The metal drawers next to the seats could be a repository of texts where lovers sat on these benches and wrote about their tragic experiences. However, this dystopian design serves separation and isolation. Perhaps the best thing for lovers is not the Greek dystopian design, but the work of the raft that glorifies the utopian “love”. Although the design of the Greek forked seat offers a “new naturalness”, burying Raft’s “Valentine’s Bench” in marble water is the solution to the problem of separation with “classical naturalness”.
Note: My paintings will be on display at the Art Contact Art Fair at the Yenikapı Kadir Topbaş Cultural Center on May 26-29 at the B16 Ballard stand. Also, I will be giving a talk on “Great Historical Transformations and Art” at the Mela Conference Hall on May 26 at 17.30. We welcome all our readers.