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Learned Helplessness
group exhibition curated by Işın Önol
Istanbul/ Turkey 2014

"Learned Helplessness" delves into how individuals and societies internalize failure, leading them to stop striving for change even when conditions shift. This mental state, outlined by psychologist Martin Seligman in 1967, influences various societal dynamics, from gender politics to authoritarianism. The project explores how mechanisms of control, including media saturation, manipulation, and violence, perpetuate a collective sense of powerlessness. Through diverse artistic mediums, it prompts reflection on unlearning helplessness and fosters dialogue on reclaiming agency. ​ Olivier Hölzl’s work primarily explores the dynamics of power mechanisms and poses questions about how the institutions of family, school and the military participate in the process of internalizing power structures. His book and video with the common title Turning Point offer an analysis of family structures, symbolic learning, religion, and power. ​ The Point of Impact shows a group of anonymous soldiers without giving a reference to their countries or missions. The military is one of the main institutions that are widely recognized and respected in almost every country. Its existence persistently reminds us of the possibility of war. For countries in transformation, where the military service is obligatory at least for the male half of the society, the army is overwhelmingly dominant both for those who serve in it as well as those outside of it.

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