Songs of the Possessed, production still, 2014 Photo: Rıdvan Bayrakoğlu
Songs of the Possessed is a video-performance based on the manipulation of emotions in the work space. The video is an experiment on the notions of working, communicating and acting. In contemporary companies, work has been detached from the material world and has become communicational and psychological. It is no longer about producing things but managing oneself and manipulating relations. And while doing this, there is a mandate of being true and authentic which by definition is paradoxical. Thus, the work space can be seen as the node of a society where we can observe dark absurdity of contemporary control and power structures.
From the viewpoint of dominant discourse, the notion of performance is crucial. In my practice, I do not consider performance solely as an artistic form. I am interested in its different meanings and mechanisms within various fields, for example in sports, in the workplace, in theater, in TV and in daily life…
The video features 13 performers, most of them are white-collar workers who practice theater as a hobby. And three of them are professional actors/performers. The script of the performance stems from a training session conducted in actual corporations. In this specific exercise, the workers are practicing emotions and behaviors that are supposed to be useful in managing emotional relations at the workplace. The session is facilitated by a psychodramatist. First, workers are asked to form groups of two, then they asked to get angry at each other, and then they are asked to stop, and afterwards, they are asked to complement each other.
In abstracting the formal structure of this session and re-working it to form what I call an “orchestra of emotions”, the video tries to explore the relations between acting, control and authenticity.
While abstracting the form of this session and re-working it to form -what I call- an “orchestra of emotions” the video tries to explore the relations between acting, control and authenticity.
Sociological explorations of the issue can be found in the work of Arlie Russell Hochschild Managed Heart (1979) and Eva Illouz Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism (2007).