Nostalgia for the Future

Human beings have long made history for endlessly redefining their relationship with nature, which was once given as a condition of life. Relationships multiply through infinite combinations of factors: one becomes two, two become four and on and on, increasing proportionally to the number of individuals. All of the factors involved in the process of amplifying relationships may be called a secondary nature or a condition. When two beings talk to each other, one story is created and so is its meaning. If this entire mechanism is called an ecosystem, around what point is our ecosystem located and what messages is it delivering?

Looking at the works of an artist duo, Martinka Bobrikova and Oscar de Carmen, who have been working together since 2005, reminds me of this old logic of life because their works stand at the point that most acutely deals with the coordinates of this age in which we live. In fact, nature as a condition of life is basically the root of our existence, located in an energy circulation system that sustains human life. But our lives at this moment are full of an excess of capital value created by excessive capitalism that has lost its way. A relationship without meaning raises a question. And this age has an abnormally large number of questions, a number that’s so large it has exceeded the number of relationships.

In this context, the activities of Martinka and Oscar working on newly formed social relationships poetically portray today’s layered social ecosystem in Yes, I Can (Not) or The (Art) World through various metaphors. They also reveal why many relationships that do not make sense can function on their own. In particular, their first subject of interest is food. This is significant because food, a thing of the first relationship that maintains human life, is more problematically overproduced than any other product in the capitalist system.

Food exists as a surplus for some and as an absolute deficit for others in an ecosystem that pursues unlimited capital gains. This extreme situation changes cultural aspects as well that have been with food since the beginning. Some of the major projects of Martinka and Oscar such as Kitchen Dialogues, Morning Glory, and Afterlife try to share the old values of life through food and recycle the things that have lost their meanings due to the surplus of capital. These activities have led to works like Superfluous Identity that ask various incisive questions on the gaps in the current system.

Thus, their work presents an answer to the question of what these broadly extended social relationships are ultimately meant to mean. That there is nothing but the old proposition of the ‘concrete life’ that is endlessly repeated in new relationships. Even when a way of life or a pattern of behavior changes, the dynamics of our lives do not change much in response. This is also why the political and economic mechanisms cannot define humans the other way around. Relationships will have more extreme infinite proliferation, but the link between this question and answer to our life will still hold in both the near and far future. It is nostalgia for the future that we may feel in the work of Martinka and Oscar.