by STIRworldDec 30, 2019
If it was not enough to experience incessant turbulence in weather conditions and witness the slow deterioration of our natural environment, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly made sure that we stopped to pay attention to our treatment of the planet and in turn - ourselves. The renewed dialogue around this relationship has heightened our awareness of it, resulting in artists of all media and form responding to the crisis in their own way. In their first exhibition upon reopening post lockdown being lifted, Odunpazarı Modern Museum in Eskişehir, Turkey, presents At the End of the Day, an exhibition featuring both local Turkish artists like Elmas Deniz, as well as international ones such as Marc Quinn.
The director of the museum, Defne Casaretto, speaks with STIR about her curatorial intentions against the backdrop of the real-time crisis at hand. “It is a fact that we are not treating our environment as we should. Not only in the sense of literal damages, but also in the crises human beings have created single-handedly. This comes with various consequences, including the pandemic we are in. Although it is highly possible for us to live in this world in harmony and with respect, this is something we overlook to maintain our daily comfort. As we were working on At the End of the Day, our main aim was to focus more on the possibilities of co-existing better rather than dictating about wrongdoings or getting into scary doomsday scenarios," says Casaretto.
The exhibition is inspired by the seminal novella The Word for World Is Forest (1972) by Ursula K Le Guin. Casaretto states, “The Word for World is Forest tells the story of destruction as a result of human invasion. Nearly all artworks in At the End of the Day emphasise human invasion, destruction and human interference over nature. Some, of course, have a different insight and ask the question of what if we did not exist in this world, what it would be like to see the Earth without us. The important thing here is to see how these artworks touch upon our relationship with nature, both personal and through climate politics that cripple our habitat. To name a few, Ali Kazma’s Safe, a documentary of a safe deposit for the doomsday to “make the world sustainable” and survive the end even after years of failed agricultural policies or our decisions to destroy nature; Elmas Deniz’s Made to be Seen a commercial for nature, as if it is a sellable good; and Fırat Engin’s Purification, a complete irony. Burcu Yağcıoğlu focuses on the destruction of nature, forests and oceans, and the creatures that disappeared in the meantime. These are all directly connected to the story in some ways. All of the works in the exhibition touch upon the subjects we want to focus on and draw attention to from this book”.
At the End of the Day comprises 36 artists who have contributed artworks ranging from installation and photography to video and painting. The curatorial direction allowed for the inclusion of both emerging and established artists, incorporating international names as well as supporting Turkish artists. “As the first contemporary and modern art museum located outside Istanbul, we are always eager to bring the Turkish art scene to Eskişehir, to show what is going on in Turkish art, especially to locals,” mentions Casaretto.
While the exhibition highlights crucial perspectives pertaining to our ongoing situation, one must question the extent of the reach and effectiveness of the message delivered through art. Is the exhibition curated to generate conversation? Does it work to reduce the gap between artwork and viewer? Does the viewer have the opportunity to respond to and engage with the artwork at a conceptual level? While art enables us to express our views on relevant matters, holding space for discussion and ensuring that the discussion goes beyond the museum space is up to the curators. Although OMM encourages school tours and educational programmes, every art space across the world must begin to push the boundaries of audience engagement and interaction so that the art goes beyond the walls of the museum.
‘At the End of the Day’ will be on view at Odunpazarı Modern Museum until April 25, 2021.