multichannel video installation, 2013
incl. 9 sets with 13 standup figures and billboard video, neon letters, door sign and 1 video for flatscreen
The globalization and liberalization of markets has shaped the world during the last decades, while religious terminology has increasingly entered the public sphere. Christian fundamentalism in the United States, for example, has influenced countless Hollywood movies and the country’s foreign policy certainly since the 1980s. Movements like the Tea Party combine concepts of religious faith and so-called objectivism. This particular concept on the other hand had been advocated and heavily championed by self-proclaimed philosopher and author Ayn Rand who herself has ended up becoming the founder of one of the most radical capitalist think tanks in the United States. Her books belong to the country’s most often read literature next to the Bible. In 1956 the United States unofficial motto of “E pluribus unum” (Latin for “One out of many”) was replaced by the claim “In God we trust”, which is printed on every Dollar bill and appears on some coins next to the goddess of Liberty. Although America defines itself as a secular country, the “Nation under God” is always part of the political vocabulary today. In Turkey, like in the U.S., the synthesis of religion and capitalism also shapes the discourse today. Economical growth has brought up a new conservative middle class in Turkey, which keeps strong ties to their Islamic values and principles. This new consumerism conforms to patterns of cultural globalization arguably promising a synthesis between faith, business activities, and lifestyles.
Bjørn Melhus’s LIBERTY PARK – IN GOD WE TRUST is an audio-visual commentary on the synthesis of capitalist consumerism and religious beliefs in contemporary societies coupled with images of recent urban changes in Istanbul and Turkey. Visitors are immersed in an indoor environment that has been specially designed and built for this occasion. A clean entrance area opens with a vertical single screen video portrait of Melhus as a Turkish private security guard mumbling quotes from Hollywood movies next to a “SOLD” neon sign (referring to a “post sale” status). From here the visitor is lead into the darkness of a rough, former industrial space with a multi-channel installation of video projections on plywood cutouts of life-size stand-up figures. They function as iconic tableaux vivants with different text banners all arranged in front of a large-scale billboard with a hypnotic video-loop of new urban developments in Istanbul and Turkey.
(from the press release of DIRIMART)
Installation Views (DirimArt, Istanbul, 2013):
Installation Views (Galerie Patrick Ebensperger, Berlin, 2013):