Exhibition of Pinar&Viola’s Ecstatic Surface Collection 2013 at Pilevneli Project, Istanbul
Ecstatic Surface Design duo Pinar&Viola are generators of commentaries in the margins of visual culture. Every year they launch an autonomous collection that explores excessive events in politics, culture and economy. With their Ecstatic Surface Collections, Pinar&Viola aim to encapsulate the beauty and horror of the contemporary in flat singular surfaces. The duo is strongly focused on the aestheticized and commercialized designed surfaces that surround us. With their works, they seek to investigate the latent violence and the power structures behind today’s idealized surfaces.
Pinar&Viola have collaborated for three years, their previous collections were The Credit Card Collection, Diva Opaque and the love message service 4eva.
This year’s collection, Scandal Aqua – Thrill Seekers Leaked, is a visual scenario inspired by the latest political sex scandals. The collection expresses the mediatization and tabloidization of politics. The hyper detailed collages explore the influence of real-time transparency of social media in politics, therefore narrowing the gap between politicians and citizens. Pinar&Viola’s over-filled hyper detailed surfaces in Scandal Aqua are attempts to conquer empty space in a metaphorical sense: empty (political) rhetoric and tabloid journalism, that by its sheer abundance becomes meaningless.
Scandal Aqua comprises a series of teenage style, girly pink beach towels that display overly self aware portraits of a fictitious politician. Alongside these towels are a series of mirror self-shots of teen girls in their bathrooms, wrapped in these ecstatic pink towels.
The portraits display the confusion about women’s sexual liberation and sexual objectification fitting today’s casual attitude towards sexual explicit imagery.
Scandal Aqua provokes the suggestion that political sex scandals seem to be the perfect fit for our highly sexualized culture and it’s constant flow of entertainment spirit.
The exhibition is open until the 22nd of September.
This entry was written by Art, Craftsmanship, Ecstatic Surface Design, Exhibition, Glam Chaos, Graphic design, Pinar&Viola, Vernissage, Visual ecstasy. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on September 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm, filed under
Next Thursday, September 6th, our new Ecstatic Surface Collection 2013, Scandal Aqua will be launched at Pilevneli Project in Istanbul. Hereby two images from the collection and our portrait taken by the photographer of the gallery, Isik Kaya, together with our personal video invitation and the text written by the curator of Cobra Museum, Hilde de Bruijn.
We hope to see you with us at 7pm at Pilevneli Project.
Ecstatic Surface Collection 2013
Thrill Seekers Leaked
Collection 2013 is the third Ecstatic Surface Design Collection by Amsterdam-based graphic design duo Pinar&Viola. Their collections are non-commissioned, autonomous projects based on current events in politics, culture and economy, encapsulating the beauty and horror of the contemporary. As the recurring term ‘Ecstatic Surface Design’ indicates, the collections (like Pinar&Viola’s other work) are strongly focused on the aestheticized and commercialized designed surfaces that surround us, and with their design they seek to investigate the latent violence, the power structures, behind these surfaces. In their own words, the 2011 Collection for instance staged oversized credit cards as “toxic pieces of plastic, shown as an all-encompassing metaphor for shattered dreams, disappointment, the changing notion of value and the mutating concept of ‘credit’”.
The 2012 collection consisted of images that belong to “the secret collection of the fictitious persona Scarf_whiz80. Snapshots, carefully manipulated pictures and skilful photomontages, all portraying veiled divas built a critique on societal norms of gender, race, religion and sexuality, including destructions of stereotypes and ideologies.”
The bath towels of the 2013 Collection are lavishly decorated with an overload of symbols, icons, and gadgets taken from popular and vernacular culture. Let me list some of Pinar&Viola’s main ingredients for this project:
Think pop star posters. Think Justin Bieber towels gone wrong. Think Tumblr.
Think Twitter. Think teen girls experiments with blingees.
Think webcam chats. Think Wikileaks. Think sexting.
And now we’re at it anyway: think Berlusconi, and the man whose name was mentioned so often in the press that we now, with an oddly intimate ring to it, refer to him as DSK. Two men whose sexual scandals are too well-known to be repeated here. Think the image of Democratic Congresman David Wu, dressed in a tiger suit with his hands in the air to a female aide. (Wu resigned after being accused of having an ‘unwanted sexual encounter’ with the teenage daughter of a friend.) And last but not least think of Congresman Chris Lee, who photographed himself shirtless in a bathroom mirror and sent the pictures to a woman he supposedly contacted on Craigslist.
The towels directly speak to our senses. In fact, at first, their pink-purplish backgrounds might even have a slightly nauseating effect. On top of that, the abundant amount of kittens, icons from Blackberry’s love theme, blingbling items, and other kitschy elements seem to have little to do with the frame of reference of the average grownup. And personally, I even felt a bit revolted by the idea of pressing the image of that overly self-aware looking, slick middle-aged man with fake smile who is at the heart of each towel’s composition, to my freshly showered body.
Clearly, the intended users of these towels must be the wet-haired teenage Tumblr generation girls, who’s photographs, taken with their smart phones in the private space of their bath rooms, are part of the Collection too. But then what is the relationship between the girls, each wrapped in one of the towels, and this man? There is a photograph of him in his bathroom too, at odds with the carefully controlled image he is presenting with the towels. In the photograph, he is wearing his own personal towel with a distorted pin-stripe pattern, and hashtag sign followed by the word charisma – as if to stress his popularity. Are the girls, all wearing the same necklace with hashtag medallion, admirers or maybe courtesans of this man? Well, possibly, as in the 2013 Collection “dubious moral standards ornament teenage dreams,”
as Pinar&Viola state themselves.
Yet, the pink-purplish towels keep drawing my attention, pulling me off and keeping me hypnotised at the same time. They raise my curiosity, not despite, but because they seem to present an impossible constellation of things which I would like to discuss in more detail. Instead of Justin Bieber, these towels feature our before-mentioned photo-shopped character. It would be safe now to presume that he is a fictitious politician, who upon further inspection is of course also wearing a wedding ring. He finds himself in five different, carefully designed settings, one for each towel: Domestic Affairs, Global Affairs, Sustainable Affairs, International Affairs, and Urban Affairs. In this parody realm, symbols, icons, gadgets, and decorations which would normally together make no particular sense, attain a coherent, symbolic meaning and become embedded in the suggestion of a narrative, a scandal even. Let’s get into detail with one example only, the Domestic Affairs towel:
This particular towel was highly inspired by the Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal. U.S. Congresman Weiner not only send x-rated self-portraits via Twitter but also a picture of kittens accompanied by a suggestive message along the lines of “me playing with kittens”. On the background of Weiner’s picture, a photograph of the presidential family was visible. So upon further investigation, the combination of pictures of cute kittens, empty photo frames (an indication of the empty rhetoric of a happy family life), a webcam and a ‘home’ button in the Domestic Affairs towel suddenly makes perfect twisted sense. We could also further speculate now about the threesome of a ‘home’ button, the password icon, lock and key, and the inclusion of a PC and webcam in this towel – they seem to send a warning message, and tell us that our homes, where we fulfil our need for privacy and recuperate, are not as impenetrable as we like to think. The PC and webcam do not only provide us a window to the world, it brings the world in as well. It is probably no coincidence that in the Domestic Affairs the curtains are open, and the weather outside looks grim.
The Domestic Affairs towel is exemplary for Pinar&Viola’s love for the vernacular, and what they call contemporary digital folk art, as well as for the entire 2013 Collection which is inspired by the political sex scandals that were all over the news last year – although most towels are generally inspired by these and do not illustrate specific examples. With their ‘junk’ ingredients, Pinar&Viola managed to cook-up a nourishing haute cuisine which speaks of politics, media, and strategies of manipulation and diversion, and makes us chew on the question what it actually is that the media are offering us. Are we being occupied with sex scandals instead of the information we really need in order to build well-informed opinions and make decisions as responsible, self-empowered individuals? And if so, is this type of distraction all we really want? Or, alternatively, if politicians and other powerful figures get caught in a sex scandal, shouldn’t we be treating this as serious item generating further research into the dynamics behind power structures, gender roles and class divisions? Or, when it comes to the media involved, shouldn’t we be speaking about the role of social media in the self-image of teenagers, or about the penetration of the public sphere into the private lives of people?
TO CONQUER A VACUUM
Just like Pinar&Viola’s previous two collections this collection pushes the boundaries of graphic design, though not only for its autonomous character, its rich iconography, or the quite overt political message about the mediatisation and spectacularisation of politics.
At the basis of the duo’s aesthetic language lies a philosophical approach that leads to a radical working method, and to designs that are so hyper-detailed and densely pixelated that they gain an almost tactile quality. Pinar&Viola’s ecstatic surface designs in fact testify of a great digital craftsmanship, traditionally relegated to the domestic and feminine sphere of labour, and involving a time-consuming work process that goes against the standardization and democratization of design and it’s software (in which there is no room for ‘hand-crafted’ originality).
What is interesting, is how Pinar&Viola’s strategy of creating incredibly dense surfaces is a balancing act between irony and love, between their critique of populist rhetoric with acknowledgement and acceptance of our irrational desires and needs. In their practice our need for ornamentation for instance, becomes a means through which they reveal the inherent, essential qualities of a subject. It becomes impossible to distinguish form and content, surface and depth, as Pinar&Viola are well aware of, when stating that “decoration is a means by which the inherent essential qualities of a subject are revealed. Decoration is a functional and autonomous facet in our practice, existing as stylistic elements and as a subject matter at the same time.”
Pinar&Viola’s surfaces are in fact so densely ornamented that the classic art historical term ‘horror vacui’ (Latin for ‘fear of empty space’) springs to mind, which means the filling of the entire surface of a space or an artwork with detail. The classic idea is that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural, that they go against the laws of nature and physics and that hence we feel the need to fill these spaces. Pinar&Viola take the notion of horror vacui ad absurdum; in our visually saturated environment they manage to be even louder – something I would actually not have thought possible. This is horror vacui for the affluent and well-educated consumer, Pinar&Viola’s response to the overload of information that we are surrounded with. Maybe our desire to ‘decorate’ is not caused by fear of empty space but by “a desire to adapt a vacuum, to conquer it, to mark it with one’s presence, (…),” as this is exactly what cultivators and constructors Pinar&Viola seem to do. Moreover, their rich iconography and horror vacui strategy not only conquers white, ‘unfilled’ space on a surface but also conquers empty space in a metaphorical sense: empty (political) rhetoric, superficial journalism, and information that by its sheer abundance becomes meaningless.
Hilde de Bruijn
Amsterdam, August 2012
i All Pinar&viola citations come from email and skype conversations that we had between June 2012 and August 2012
ii See note ii
iii Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog, named a “tumblelog”. The service is most popular with the teen and college-aged user segments with half of Tumblr’s visitor base being under the age of 25.
iv Animated pictures created using the Blingee free online photo editor which provides its users with a hotchpotch of “favorite topics from celebrities to anime, emo, goth, fantasy, vintage, and more!”
v The act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones
vi See note i
vii As suggested by Asger Jorn in Against Functionalism, 1. Talk at the International Congress of Industrial Design (10th Triennale of Industrial Art, Milan), 1954. The text can be found online, for instance here: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/asger-jorn/functionalism.htm
This entry was written by Art, Decadence, Dematerialization, Digitalization, Ecstatic Surface Design, Exhibition, Glam Chaos, Graphic design, Pinar&Viola, Political glam, Published, Vernissage, Video, Visual ecstasy. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on August 30, 2012 at 7:38 am, filed under
Opening MOAM, June 14th, 2012 at Gallery Fontana Fortuna Amsterdam
This fan art piece is custom-tailored for MOAM Fashion Exhibition, which took place in Gallery Fontana Fortuna in Amsterdam.
The exhibition gave place to twelve young contemporary talents to give their reinterpretation of a Dutch fashion historic highlight. We were invited to make a work together with fashion icon Aynouk Tan. MOAM connected Aynouk Tan to the historic fashion icon Mathilde Willink, a known society girl, model and muse from 60′s that lived a decadent short live in Amsterdam. In an interview Mathilde Willink said she lived in a fairy-tale world of illusions and extravagance; where fame was crucial for her. For this work we were lead by her citation, “If people do not notice you, you might as well not exist”.
Her quote became reality in today’s dynamics of online social networking. Aynouk Tan’s Facebook pictures, and their endless praising comments confirm this. We scanned her online presence and used the results to tailor a contemporary expression of intense worship. We created a fan art deluxe that portrays Aynouk Tan and her flamboyant craves for attention and recognition. The work is not only about the one being admired, it’s also about the tragic beauty of the one that admires.
You can read more about the exhibition in Diane Pernet’s blog.
This entry was written by Amsterdam, Art, Decadence, Ecstatic Surface Design, Exhibition, Fashion, Glam Chaos, Graphic design, Persona, Poster, Published, Things 'n Flings, Vernissage, Visual ecstasy. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm, filed under
Tomorrow at LhGWR in The Hague, our Divas will be shown during the exhibition Somehow, somewhat in the middle of things.
Curated in collaboration with Hester Keijser (Empty Quarter Gallery, Dubai), LhGWR presents a group exhibition with a remarkable international line-up, pairing work from both a non-Western and a Western background. At the heart of the exhibit lie a shared search for identity and the struggle for a place within society, challenging the boundaries that politics or social conventions has set. Point of departure has been the work of Mary Sibande (ZA) and Julia Gunther (DE), who both bring the role of black women in South Africa into view. Based on association, the line-up for the exhibition expanded to seven artists from a generation that has grown up to navigate with ease in a world gone global, hybrid, fragmented, and open to re-appropriation.
Participating artists: Mary Sibande, Newsha Tavakolian, Larissa Sansour, Waheeda Malullah, Pinar & Viola, Iris Vetter, Julia Gunther
SSS – Sandberg Service Show
Graduation Show Sandberg Fine Arts Department
De Service Garage
Cruquiusweg 79, Amsterdam
Fri 8 July, 17h00 till 21h00, Opening
Fri 8 July, 22h00 till 3h00, Graduation party
Invitation and catalogue design: Pinar&Viola
Poster and invitation for Sowing & Weeding exhibition at Cobra Museum.
The exhibition shows examples of folk culture in contemporary art and opposes itself to the current anti cultural climate of Dutch right wing politics. The Cobra movement can be stated as an universal positive populist art which wanted to liberate the creativity of mankind. Cobra artists aimed to make art for and by everyone, irrespective of class, race, intellect and educational level.
This poster is an ecstatic surface where Cobra revives in the folk art of the contemporary: digital folklore.
The visual statement is an upgrade of the conventional understanding of the Cobra movement. On the surface, the impulsive and intuitive beauty of digital folklore is outshined and the folk art of today is flourished on the vernacular world wide web, all parading with hijacked Cobra creatures.
We’ll currently designing a gigantic digital mural painting for the entrance of the exhibition.
This entry was written by Art, Ecstatic Surface Design, Exhibition, Graphic design, Pinar&Viola, Poster, Typography, Vernissage, Visual ecstasy. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on June 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm, filed under
May 8th, the finissage of our exhibition Diva Opaque will be held at Schank8 gallery.
If you wish to see the capsule Ecstatic Surface Collection of Pinar&Viola, if you missed the opening, if you wish to have bubbles on a sunny sunday at Hansje’s, if you want to meet scarf_whiz80, or if you just wanna hang out with us you’re welcome to pass to the gallery.
Diva Opaque: Anonymous Guardians of Intimacy
Ecstatic Surface Capsule Collection
Finnisage 8 May 2011
15.00 – 18.00 hrs
The Credit Card Collection
Official launch of Ecstatic Surface Collection 2011 – October, 14th 2011
Last but not least, a superdeluxe thanks to Nel & Anne-Marie and to all the SPRMRKT family.