Written by Ömer Erdem

The exhibition ‘Till It’s Gone’ in İstanbul Modern does not refer to nostalgia but it is a warning that calls for awareness. It points to the life path to take.

“Till it’s gone!”, “Till it’s gone!” How many times can you repeat in one day? You wake up and it is the first sentence
you utter. In the mirror, on the stairs, bus or ferry… You repeat it no matter where you look at or what you see. “Till it’s gone!” You are not aware that you are speaking out loud. Confused glances make you realize. As you approach
the exhibition awaiting you in İstanbul Modern, you start hearing that more frequently. And in a city like İstanbul
where change, urban transformation dazzles, you start shrinking, trying to keep quiet passing through the cranes,
humming demolishers and blasts from constructions. You repeat in a low voice “Till it’s gooone, till it’s…” Before you
is a barbaric machine next to İstanbul Modern, working over the sea, ordering around like a master architect. It
scatters and demolishes whatever it catches with its claws, to survive.

This is exactly why you might think that such an event is in place. You would like to visit the exhibition named after
Joni Mitchell song ‘Big Yellow’, bring annihilation first to the nature and then gradually to whole life. You can even
take a city sightseeing tour accompanied by Mitchell’s song, feel the smack of current events on your face. Beyond
ordinary popular environmentalist discourse, you can feel the exhibition in you, guided by the abstract touches of art. There is a task for everyone before annihilation turns into grim reality. Art is responsibility above all. You think about this, and once more cling to the exclamatory “till it’s gone!” which has been echoing inside you since the
morning. “Don’t let it go!”, “Don’t let it go!”

Here you are, first suspended plastic flowers scattered around. Is it too little? If we wish for the whole world to be a
bed of roses. Do not stop, proceed. Enter, tens of coffins on the ground await you. Are these made of willow tree? Or
poplar? Maybe compressed wood chips? No no, bend down and smell to find out. This is an immortal scent. The scent of nature. And olive seedlings planted over them. Song of olive out of coffins. Tree of immortality olive and box of death coffin seize upon the message. Olive represents peace and being in peace with nature as well. Songs of birds in the background fill your mind, who are these demolishers, annihilators? This monster should be sought out before it’s gone. Its rusty teeth should be pulled. This artificial garden should be put in its grave.

I said rust, rust is all around where life freezes, motion stops, where everything shrinks and hope is lost. This is why
Canan Tolon’s work of steel rods on the canvas, metal sheets, wood, acrylic, wax, grass should be observed carefully. How this dried up flow changing from dirty yellow to mildew brown horizontally and vertically, surrounds the soul and brings misery? Memory of the object demonstrates the death of motion and the end of life. It brings the space of
annihilation down on the rough, dry and at the same time dead nature. Death is presented in the exhibition at
its most artificial form but as rawly as possible. Annihilation growls in death’s hidden pocket. This is the law of death
that takes over where life disappears. Video work by Elmas Deniz is supported by the model plane designed as a dead
bird and scenes from uninhabited pieces of nature as if recorded by that plane, and winks at the Stone Library that is the most striking element in the exhibition.

This is a work of humanity with a heart of stone, not produced by the nature itself. Porous stones in all colours from coal black to coral green. In his presentation he designed as a library, Alper Aydın also throws rocks. He stones us. He announces petrification. They touch the eye, the soul, but upon death the most. Death that sings on the stone as it blooms. “Found stones and wood” embrace each other and become “an archive of natural forms”. To go a little further, stone is the castle of hope. At least memory has taken shelter in these pores, concealing the hum of annihilation. Lars Jan referring to the well one falls in or takes shelter with drowning and water metaphors, Rodney Graham puts his finger on the error, and toppling with upside down video format. Maro Michalakos embracing reverse mutation, deals with the nature of “damage” through colours of flamingo. Red that has gone yellow symbolizes the life in all living things: blood. But blood is slowly drained, as its colour fades.

Modern art proceeds with associations, references and free senses in every aspect. In this sense, it is not binding
but conceptual. It should not surprise you that Bingyi’s video and Mario Merz reveal the most natural form of apple
which has been a long-standing symbol since the original sin. Neither do spiral tables. Nothing surprises us anymore, anyway. Modern life distracts people and adheres them to actuality. This is why Neon Transformers by Pae White presents the transactive passivity of the magnetic on electric wires.

Each exhibition is a fragment in the end, and the grand movie plays outside, in the city, in the nature, on the streets, at homes, deep inside men. Art integrated into life and existence by isolating itself, calls out to the individual who is still alive, not missing or have not lost his/ her memory. The great resistance of humanity will rise there. Exhibition “Till it’s Gone!” does not refer to nostalgia but it is a warning that calls for awareness. It points to the life path to take.

An Exhibition on Nature and Sustainability İstanbul Modern Meclis-i Mebusan Avenue, Warehouse 4, Karaköyİstanbul Tuesday-Sunday: 10 AM-6 PM Thursday: 10 AM-8 PM Monday: Closed Ticket: 25 TL
(discounted 14 TL)

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Ömer Erdem

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