Candan İşcan, Spined,2018

Artist: Candan İşcan

Curator: Baran Akkuş

Flowers of the Night


There are monsters here, but they are not monstrous. There is beauty but its not familiar. There is truth but its not complete. There is meaning but its not apparent.

Imagining nature, making an image out of it. Dead nature hanging in museums. Its as if this pain inflicted on each other, on this planet, are growing pains of/on an evolutionary path that as a species we would come out at the end as something efficient, peaceful, perfect and divorced of the goo, the sticky, muddy, salty soup that was, once, the womb, the mother.

These works are explorations into this wilderness but one taken in imagination, fantasy. This is not dead nature, but it’s also not entirely in line with any plausible biological framework. Exploring the excessive, the monstrous, the weird, this is both a science fictional ecology and a conjuring of what was not suspected.

Not a precise taxology, nor a true fantasy, all things on exhibit instead occupy a space between.

So in painstaking detail, this fantastical country encroaches on usual categories, dismantling them. Creating a weird anatomy, inviting and repulsive, beautiful and dark.

A confrontation and a return (not of the repressed, but what was already here, or will already have been here, what is expressed is nothing uncannier than a tooth). How to confront this profound alienation of what made us? The forge of stars, the lizard that has become the spinal cord, propped up as scaffolding for the many achievements of our species, most notably, our victory over what constitutes our essence: not a soul, not a body, but multitudes of organs, dying in billions, reborn in this particular, contingent configuration.

No why here, no rationalization, no conclusion, not a depth to achieve or a bedrock where steps can retreat back to a particular origin. There is no revelation, no understanding, no clear meaning behind these works. It’s not just because the artist does not want to inject these works with superfluous, marketable adjectives, narratives, as if creating a story after the fact (and she definitely does not want to sterilize her works with words) but because the subject matter is insistently beyond understanding. Because these are the organs that make us, the tiny blood vessels, the meat, the chalky bone.All coming together to form something not more, not less, but precisely what it is: vulnerable, beautiful, cruel, chaotic, and, unexpected.

There is not a fascination here with the the sublime nature that exists only in popular imagination anyway. These are extreme works, both in the way they have been crafted and in the way they reflect the extremes of living in this particular now. And this is an extreme, an absurd tale that is spun. A trap, a maze of a city filled to the brim with construction, ambition, power, voracious beauty and the worst vices of good enough people. so the nature, already mortified, rotting but still invoking dark revelries, is re-cast, like a spell weaved with tiny movements of extremities.


We live in anxious cities, overflowing with bodies, flesh or not.Depression, loneliness, anxiety disorders are rampant. Amidst all this chaos, another calls. Nature beckons, as if it can exist for itself, as if the word means something definite. But there is no nature outside the city, in the huge lightly populated or empty lands of Anatolia, that may appear to us as something pure. As creatures born, brought up and dying inside steel and concrete worlds filled with screens, the forest, the sea, the mountain and all the life that we slowly but surely genocide becomes even more distant, weirder.

This “weird nature”, similar to “weird fiction” sub-genre of literature, serves as the first kernel of imagination for these works. The idea that the future, particularly the apocalyptic one, may not be a wasteland, instead appearing as a distinctly non-civilized environment abundant with life. As Ballard’s Drowned World goes back to prehistoric, diluvian periods, or as Vandermeer’s trilogy revels in rebirth, in all its yet unimagined configurations.

Sumptuousness of a flower, completeness of a bone structure and an abundance of channels, veins, lines criss crossing multiple bodies, entangled in unexpected configurations. That is how one may imagine a possible coming age, one that grows out of the debris, the remains of a vast sprawl, oceans of plastic, whole continents covered with pollution. An imaginable future emerges right here. In one of the biggest construction sites of the world, a river of concrete filling up the streets, transforming how life inside is lived in surprising ways.

This element of surprise is in the coming together of these works. Not planned but not without a design either. These are pieces of a possible future, a peaceful one where the imposed order is broken down, free from any categorization or adherence to channels of evolution that one would normally expect to observe.


The word ‘nature’ never meant anything, it was already a technology whereby ‘man’ attempted to create its image anew. With a hybrid way of life, nature and technology is inexorably linked. there is no nature but human nature, as we hold the fate of the planet in our hands at these last hours. And it is now realized that animal human is now the final word on life of this planet, at least until it wipes itself out before the work of annihilation is done and life endures, somehow finds a way.

There is no meaning to the concept of human nature. that ground of reality one may hope to find in nature is a passing illusion compared to the lives of people living here, in this city right now, overcrowded, polluted, filled to the brim with anxiety.

This is not about remembering, not about some past that evokes certain memories about a nature that has once been with us. These works do not mourn nature. They don’t intend to re-imagine them. Instead they celebrates the weird, unwieldy, the visceral, hard to describe life of bodies, plants, crustaceans, anatomy books and small expeditions into forests and sea sides.

So for all that we may talk about the death of the planet, this exhibition is still hopeful. It doesn’t dwell in the past. Yes it’s not entirely unrealistic, but it faces up to the transformation of life and the catastrophe which is fast approaching but does not consider this to be a finality. Instead, it focuses on possible forms of life that belongs to an imagined rebirth. Even if humans become extinct (and eventually they will) and even if they completely destroy the fauna, animals, climate, drying the rivers up and boiling the seas and poisoning every part of Earth, life may arrive yet again. The planet can heal back, in some distant future and begin fresh, to breath and give birth again. And there would be beauty and untouched wilderness all over the planet again and maybe, just maybe, some of these creatures living on top of the ruins of human empire would look like this.

Curator I Baran Akkuş