Humorous ways of ‘not deciding to save the world’

Humorous ways of ‘not deciding to save the world’

ISTANBUL-Hürriyet Daily News
Humorous ways of ‘not deciding to save the world’

The exhibition takes place as part of a series initiative by Tate Modern, and is based on a program of international collaborations involving reciprocaluratorial exchanges .

Salt Beyoğlu is currently hosting a humorous exhibition, titled: “I decided not to save the world.”

The exhibition is taking place as part of a series initiative by London-based Tate Modern, and is based on a program of international collaborations involving reciprocal research and curatorial exchanges for its Level 2 Gallery. As a national museum exhibiting international modern art, Tate Modern is developing collaborations with partner organizations in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, South America, Africa and Eastern Europe. For the fourth exhibition in this series, the Tate has partnered with SALT.

Over the past year, a curator from each venue – Kyla McDonald from Tate Modern and Duygu Demir from SALT – undertook short research residencies in Istanbul and London respectively. This process resulted in “I decided not to save the world,” which was displayed at Tate Modern from Nov. 4, 2011 to Jan. 8, 2012 and featured four emerging artists.

In the show, artists Mounira al-Solh, Yto Barrada, Mircea Cantor and a collective of Slavs and Tatars devise playful interventions into their everyday environments, combining social commentary and investigation with humor and irony to throw off our typical habits of thinking. Emerging from the specific contexts in which they are working, the light-hearted approach of these works belies the artists’ acute socio-political insights.

The title of the exhibition is taken from Mircea Cantor’s 2011 video of the same name, in which a single take of a small boy saying, “I decided not to save the world” is shown on a continuous loop. The opening of the exhibition is marked by this video.

The work is emblematic of the complexity that underlies the simplest of statements, and is typical of the way Cantor responds to contemporary concerns using simple and direct gestures.

Yto Barrada is known for the playful nature of her work, rooted in the specific context of Tangier, Morocco, where she lives and works. The sculptures, manifestos and films included in her exhibition use humor and satire to address the country’s rapid modernization.

Rawane’s Song (2006), an autobiographical video by Mounira al-Solh, is a witty take on her struggle to make work about the Lebanese wars in the wake of the previous generation of Beirut artists. Ironically, it ends up addressing exactly the issues she claims to be avoiding.

The practice of the Slavs and Tatars collective seeks to examine a region it describes as “east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China.” Its text-based works are taken from a variety of sources and play with double-meanings, mistranslation, language barriers and notions of the dichotomy between east and west.

Duygu Demir is a programmer for SALT Research & Programs and worked on the inaugural exhibition at SALT Beyoğlu in April 2011, “I am not a studio artist,” a retrospective of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin. She was also the editor of a comprehensive publication that accompanied the exhibition. Kyla McDonald has been Assistant Curator of International Art at Tate Modern since 2008. She is currently working on the acquisition of international art for the Tate Collection, with a special focus on the Middle East, North Africa and, more recently, South Asia.