(ongoing project in collaboration with İpek Aşıkoğlu)
The Ministry of Happiness project is an initiative designed to highlight the injustices in experiencing happiness among different individuals and communities. The project focuses on individuals torn between news from their homelands and the need to maintain an average mood dictated by daily life in multicultural cities where people with migration and displacement stories are in higher numbers. In doing so, it aims to emphasize the (un)conscious discrimination often ingrained in Western culture, where there seems to be a presumption that individuals from Global South countries are accustomed to pain and conflicts more than those from Western countries.
There are reasons behind the sombre expressions we encounter around us every day. However, we are either too hesitant or too lazy to ask someone how they feel, or we consider it an intrusion into personal space. The Ministry of Happiness project strives to bridge this gap in communication and envisions a future where international unions incorporate a "Happiness Clause" into their treaties to protect individuals’ Right to be Heard. As per this Clause, each citizen dedicates one hour of their time to working for the Ministry in their current job. This hour
is compensated through the Ministry's budget. (Those who do not work receive a payment equivalent to one hour of work.) During this hour, each person interacts with three unfamiliar individuals, inquiring about their emotions for the day, and then also in turn, sharing their own feelings with three other individuals they have yet to meet. Through 7-minute conversations, individuals would cultivate human connections by engaging with three unique stories daily.
Recognizing the difficulty in approaching three unfamiliar individuals to listen and to share, the Ministry of Happiness has established Heart-to-Heart Booths. Inside these booths, of which you can observe the first prototype here, there are designated areas for both sharing and listening. The person using the sharing booth spends 7 minutes conveying their troubles, happiness or desires to the person in the listening booth. In this prototype stage, roles can be exchanged at the end of the conversation, allowing for a change from narrator to listener. Alternatively, the curtain can be opened for face-to-face interaction, or individuals can reveal their deepest secrets while maintaining complete anonymity.