Seeing the black panther | Pilot Gallery

Excerpt from the press release

‘Nature’ and ‘the economy’, which are issues the artist has been preoccupied with for a long time, had constituted the foundation of her solo exhibition at Maçka Art Gallery in 2012. The issue of “poverty” that she tackles through the individual is opened up to discussion via the questioning of a more global system of values in this exhibition with a focus on money as an instrument of change and the act of monetary valuation itself. Particularly the commodification of nature and the normalization of this commercializing, and works on humans’ perception and consumption of nature (and even natural beauties) are among the issues explored in the exhibition.

A series of works the artist developed around a five centuries old oak tree in Stockholm constitute the basis of the exhibition. The artist wanting to buy a tree as a symbolic gesture, regardless of her own economic situation, comprises both the starting point of the work and the cipher for her video. Alluding to that which was formerly not for sale and/or inconceivable that could be sold, the work also contemplates buying land and (being able to) buy everything on the land alongside it. Human beings wanting to buy things they love and consider useful reinforces their conception of ownership as the only way as another layer. In this absurd position she puts herself in, the artist questions where nature, wedged between private property and commercial goods, is.

Shaped around the desire to buy a tree, the exhibition consists of videos, writings and drawings. The value system –especially monetary valuation of something- is scrutinized through a series of drawings based on certain parameters the artist speculates. These calculations, which at first glance seem to be logical, in effect remain inadequate in terms of naming the price for nature.

What does it mean to want to buy a tree?

In consumer society along the axis of neo-liberal capitalist habits, perception of nature as a consumable can be shaped not only by purchasing with money, but also through clean air, scenery, or touristic attraction, since now for the urban human being nature encompasses “humanless” spaces. The installation composed of photographs taken in such spaces, both underscores this state of consumerism, and also tackles our callousness to images of nature. The installation pertaining to how dearth and abundance affect value highlights our growing insensitivity to images of nature, just like our insensitivity to war or other images. Trying to buy a tree and banknotes made of trees cannot coalesce in our minds. Elmas Deniz frames banknotes of different dimensions, makes them invisible.

Everything pertaining to the necessity of preserving nature is bound to a paradox. Since the sustainability of the capitalist system depends upon constant growth, the depletion of natural resources also falls within the sphere of consumption with a capitalist approach. The preservation of nature reduced to saving symbols in turn leads to excess of information and the rapidly growing invisibility of images of nature. The image of a small found object –a framed image- depicts a black panther on black background, which also lends its name to the exhibition. This time, the artist uses this found object in her installation as means to render the invisible visible.

The exhibition aims to open up to discussion a values system through the questions of nature, money, and purchasing.


Macka Sanat

Excerpt from the exhibition text

by Nazlı Gürlek

“In her exhibition entitled ELMAS, Deniz renders visible various norms and signifiers of the notion of poverty, and accepted value systems as well as their fear-based psychological reflections. The show consists of a dual arrangement of works, one spilling onto the street with a banner and the other filling the gallery space with a set of ready-made objects and installations. The latter involves the application of these objects and installations through habits such as gathering, hoarding, reproducing, heaping and collecting.

Things that appear in the show include a bent fork; an overused Sümerbank bag with stitches on tears; a hand-woven bird nest made with a credit card, a wristwatch, and a lighter mixed with natural elements such as branches of trees and dried bushes. Happy Collection (2012) is another installation that comprises a selection of empty food, drink and detergent boxes in the niches of the gallery that normally host valuable objects.

Among all these disparate objects, Poverty Line (2011) appears as the backbone of the show as a document piece. The copies of documents sent to Deniz by the Execution Office of her neighborhood are installed in a straight line on the main arc that divides the gallery space into two equal parts, reaching as a border both vertically and horizontally through the space. Outside, where the internal tiling of the gallery extends, the viewer is greeted with a banner with statistics in poverty in a global scale.

In this arrangement where everyday objects, official documents, and pure data becomes an art object these objects, documents and texts have been chosen by Deniz for their roles as signifiers of the larger contexts from which they have been severed rather than for their formal qualities. These objects, documents and texts are class and economic signifiers of a certain culture of consumption and lifestyle. On the other hand, each seem to betray these qualities as they are displayed in niches and on plinths as absolute sculptural presences.

Deniz brings together conceptual binaries that are part of our class consciousness today such as wealth/poverty, independence/belonging, consumption object/art work, document/art work, private/public, center/periphery, artificial/natural, new/used, singularity/plurality etc. by way of turning them into the basic material and production method of her art.


Haskoy String Factory