Istanbul Modern in 2016: TILL IT’S GONE: An Exhibition on Nature and Sustainability

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

istanbulmodern tillitsgone2Istanbul Modern announced its first major exhibition of 2016: “TILL IT’S GONE: An Exhibition on Nature and Sustainability”. Cosponsored by Eczacıbaşı Group and Şekerbank and with the contributions of TAV Airports Holding, the exhibition features works by twenty artists and art collectives from different corners of the world proposing different perspectives on our perception of nature and new kinds of awareness vis-à-vis our relationship with the ecosystem.

Istanbul Modern brings together artists who address nature and ecology with a particular emphasis on the notion of sustainability.

Curated by Çelenk Bafra and Paolo Colombo, the exhibition features paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, photographs, and moving images by Roger Ackling, Bas Jan Ader, Alper Aydın, Bingyi, Jasmin Blasco and Pico Studio, Charles A. A. Dellschau, Elmas Deniz, Mark Dion, Hamish Fulton, Rodney Graham, ikonoTV “Art Speaks Out”, Lars Jan, Mario Merz, Maro Michalakakos, Joni Mitchell, Yoko Ono, Camila Rocha, Canan Tolon, Francesco Garnier Valletti, and Pae White.

Bafra and Colombo describe “TILL IT’S GONE” as “the manifestation of a yearning for nature, a livable world, and a desire for sustainable ecological balance”. The exhibition aims to reinforce humankind’s relationship with nature and the ecosystem and introduce fresh perspectives by looking at the concept of sustainability through the lens of art.

istanbulmodern tillitsgone

Ranging from diverse periods from the nineteenth century to the present, the works in the exhibition reflect their artists’ perception of nature and relationship with the concept of sustainability, offering interpretations of and inventive proposals for interactions between human beings and the ecosystem, and plants and animals in particular. Some of the works suggest the impossibility of solving major ecological issues, while others make proposals for safeguarding the ecosystem and the survival of humankind in harmony with it. A considerable number of the artists use nature itself as the medium for their production.

The exhibition takes its title from the refrain of the 1970 song “Big Yellow Taxi” by the Canadian singer-songwriter and artist Joni Mitchell:

You don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

The song emphasizes how we do not understand the value of nature “till it’s gone”; the exhibition likewise emphasizes nature’s indispensability for human life and what can be done before it is too late. We continue to hear different versions of this popular song, which, at the time it was released, became an environmental anthem of a generation whose awareness of the radical changes affecting the world was rapidly increasing. The curators believe that special attention should be given to artists who have brought the issue to a cultural and social turning point through the subtle interpretations they offer; therefore they dedicate “TILL IT’S GONE” to the generation of 1968 –which includes Joni Mitchell– who contributed to the development of environmental awareness, and to all artists who bring new perspectives to bear on environmental problems.

For more information about the exhibition, visit Istanbul Modern’s website.

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