The Stedelijk presents a major work by Özgür Kar in the large IMC gallery on the first floor, also known as the Gallery of Honor. The work of Özgür Kar (1992) reflects on the contemporary human condition, focusing on the input we receive from mass- and social media, and how these sources influence our sense of self. At the end of the day reflects the title of both the artwork and exhibition, and is the first solo presentation of Kar’s work in an institutional context in the Netherlands.
A speaking figure is trapped inside a flatscreen monitor facing a gargantuan set of speakers hung on a black frame. During a 15-minute loop the naked, kneeling figure gently mutters to himself, giving the visitor a window into his inner world. The cold technological appearance of the installation seems to contradict the intimate, introspective monologue of the figure. “At the end of the day,” he states in an absurdist pep-talk, “I’ll just be myself, and I’ll come out on top, just be yourself, be real to yourself.” The work pulls language from social media platforms such as Instagram, and plays with the aspirational content generated and eagerly consumed by its users. Narratives of perseverance, also found in mass media such as reality television, foreground images of confident, type-A people in order to drum up their audience’s ambitions—improving one’s appearance, homemaking, and professional standing, to list but a few examples.
Kar’s work points toward a mutual understanding of vulnerability, suggesting a certain fragility and a conflicted interiority as a universal experience.