Goodbye Expectations

installation, 2017

The project is a research into the connection between the concept of home and consumerism, embodied in the text from Ikea catalogues and how they present the contemporary home. The exhibition points out hidden mechanisms and rhetorics of mass media identified in Guy Debord’s book ‘The Society Of The Spectacle’, focusing on the text from the 2017 Ikea catalogue. There are no rules anymore in designing and behaving in your home, you can be yourself and ‘be as crazy as you want’, clearly illustrating a repackaging of consumerist tactics.

I turned the gallery into an Ikea showroom dotted with various works I made on the theme, including ready-mades, drawings and collages. Each room in the exhibition had one main piece (a tablecloth, a bedsheet and a carpet, digitally printed textiles) deconstructing the language used in the catalogue both visually and semantically through the use of expressive typography, pointing out these hidden rhetorical mechanisms.

The exhibition also aims to blur the line between different spaces: an Ikea showroom, a home and an art gallery.

Exhibited in:
-Goodbye Expectations, Visual Kontakt gallery in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2017, curated by Olimpia Bera

Photos by Stefan Badulescu

Curatorial text by Olimpia Bera

Having long been preoccupied with the evolution and the aesthetics of current consumerist forms, Oana Clițan redefines objects and their functions in the context of an exhibition, from the same perspective as presented by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle (1967).

The adaptability of the Marxist ideology to the evolution of the free market and a global, liberalized labor market is in unison with the seduction that objects as end products have on the client-buyer-spectator. This triad of terms personified by the contemporary individual in its day to day life refers to the comfort and the obedience of a consumerist society perfected by technological progress, to which the individual is drawn to, and is also a part of with a double function: producer and consumer. Personal needs are driven by exigency and they change according to sociocultural trends and scientific revolutions, which mold and ‘personify’ the product. Thus, the aspect and the aesthetics of the product can be analyzed according to the level of satisfaction it provides, but also from the perspective of diversion from tradition, in the context of a global technological progress.

As an example, Goodbye Expectations paraphrases sequences of marketing strategies that IKEA creates for its products. The house is a complex of endlessly reinvented objects to which, according to the principle of prescribed ideas of assembly and disassembly, the ‘home’ function is attributed. This principle promises its clients a wide range of possibilities, value for money, and a trendy ambience. The key-element of the marketing strategy to maintain a trust-based relationship with the consumer is the minimal amount of time and effort that needs to be put into creating a life-enhancing, confortable home. Moreover, IKEA overestimates the ability of the customer to imagine an infinite number of possibilities of interior design, so it offers harmonious design suggestions. Habitat-projection strategy uses social patterns like the modern family, or modern-day typologies like the freelancer, the single corporate, who are people searching to compensate for their severe lack of free time. Mass media promotes these psychological profiles by putting them in advertising and popular shows and TV series. The efficiency of this marketing strategy can basically be translated into an abuse of the human body and mind, which contains both a call on imagination and a pressure on the creative potential, as well as the individual’s ability to respond to the illusion that he or she might reinvent himself/herself through the repeated satisfaction of the ego.

Oana Clițan’s showroom project reflects the mundane concern of applying efficiency to the way in which we regard the world of objects. By using accessible means, she presents the concept of a habitable space. The phenomenon of seduction encourages the development of both an aesthetic and practical sense, which is at the disposal of everybody, regardless of age, gender or standard of living. The paradox lies in the consistency of mass production which, by exhausting the image of the object through multiplications and combinations, is ready to meet even the highest expectations.

Olimpia Bera
Visual Kontakt Gallery