e-flux holiday announcement, December 23rd, 2011

Under-production. Under/production. Under production. under production. Under + production. Under – production. Under = production. Under! production. Under! Production.

I—author of the following words, some of the images and the founder of the context in which these images and words are being reproduced—am an Under! Producer. Under! Production, for the remainder of this self-prophesying, self-legitimizing, self-reassuring text refers to a) producing less than what is recommended, b) vehemently doing so, 3) separation of the production and the quantity of the production—the exclamation mark ends a thing—, 4) embracing of this condition of production as a Proper Name, as artists of this particular breed still need to be called something with capitalized letters. (This is not dissimilar to the alienating narcissism of names such as Madonna and Cher, and also has an affinity for the professional self-erasure of The Comptroller.)

One of the underlying premises of Under! Production is the triangular relationship between the three elements, as visually illustrated by the above diagram, namely, production, work, and attitude. Work refers to that thing I do. The thing I do oscillates—I read, I write, I look, I watch, I go to work. That’s the breaking point. I go to work. This confuses me. There is my “work” as cached by my overly expensive MFA and there is the work that I go to, that chases me around the room, to vacations, to my parents’ living room, back to my apartment, in and out of my personal computer. I forgot to mention, I don’t have a studio and that is only appropriate as I am an Under! Producer. I could maybe afford a studio, but I wouldn’t know what to do with myself there. I feel like an impostor most of the time in the context of real Artists who get silver poisoning from darkroom fumes or paint fumes and who don’t answer their phones because they’re in the studio. You see, I always answer my phone. And I always answer my e-mails. It probably has to do with the fact that I don’t have anything better to do. But that’s besides the point. Most of the time, I feel like this:Except that I’m usually surrounded by my laundry. So, I leave home every morning, I go to work, and I perform the task that I’m supposed to perform for my boss (who is an Artist, but that’s beside the point too) and in exchange, I get to pay my rent, buy food, have insurance, you know, the good stuff. And then I come home and do my Work. Again, the capitalization. I do need some sort of distinction. The space is my home, so I do not have the spatial differentiation. The medium is my laptop, again, not that different from what I do during the day and the form is e-mails, discussions, photoshop and color-coded folders. It’s far from glamorous. Aura? Forget it. Aura hasn’t lived here since I don’t know when. So this:

Helvetica really helps. I have made a decision a long time ago not go in debt to make work and as I seem to only come up with ideas that makes very few fellow nerdy cultural producers giggle and discuss what I’m trying to do, I cannot produce outside of this very screen I’m looking at right now.

Not to say I’m complaining. I am capable of Normal Production. There is something about Under! Production that is just so lovely. And I don’t mean lovely with a Woody Allen or Hannibal Lector kind of emphasis. I mean lovely as in with love, worthy of love, full of love.

Under! Production is liberating. You don’t have to move your productions from apartment to apartment, studio to studio, residency to residency. Furthermore, you don’t have to keep looking at what you did before. You are not tied down by your own mental excess, you can just choose not to look at the pseudo-conceptual word and image collages lurking on your laptop somewhere.

But most importantly, you’ll be immune to feeling like below:

And isn’t that a good thing?

But I digress.

(I do that often, hopefully one day, a Kunsthalle’s ambitious associate curator will make sense of it and let me know what my pseudo-existential angst(s) wrapped up in confusion mean.)

Let’s go back to the triangle. The triangle of Work – Production – Attitude.

If production is the ultimate goal, what is the interaction between the work that you do and your attitude? (By using the second person, I’m slyly inviting you to be an Under! Producer. Nobody wants to be lonely.) Attitude can refer to an ideological stand, a political position (not always the same thing), a personal demeanor, a disposition. Disposition—a most strange word. Dis-position. [Am I the only one who thinks about a broken femur sticking out of a thigh after a waterskiing accident?] Position. Different positions in soccer require different kind of attitudes and skills. Speed, agility, strategy, momentum, stamina, all have different places and importance. Attitude can also refer to the manner of execution, the way in which the production takes place. This can be distant, it can be intimate, it can be bodily, it can be cerebral, it can be a combination of both. It can be Marina Abramovic’s doorway, wrapped in Joseph Kosuth’s chairs. It can be so long that even a Hans Ulrich Obrist interview would be too little space. (I’m giving away my geographic and professional coordinates.)

Work can only be meaningful in monolithic form. The fragmentation of work into different professional and conceptual splinters can only dissipate the core that gives rise to and sustains all of it. It is only when

Lays Out
Sudden Reprieve
Guilty Plea
Countless Lost Limbs
Prefer Personal, Not Political*


*These five lines are from the Verbal Collages project. The work was produced from the front page headlines of the New York Times following a set of predetermined rules. 

—Merve Ünsal