Borusan Contemporary will present a special exhibition of work by Diana Thater, the influential Los Angeles-based artist, in its Istanbul galleries September 16, 2017, through February 18, 2018. Diana Thater: A Runaway World was originally organized by The Mistake Room, Los Angeles, in spring 2017. Borusan Contemporary is presenting an expanded iteration comprising three new video installations exploring the plight of animals in Kenya living in imminent danger of poaching and two earlier works that contextualize the artist’s practice.

Diana Thater: A Runaway World is co-organized by Kathleen Forde, Borusan Contemporary’s Artistic Director at Large, and Cesar Garcia, Executive and Artistic Director of The Mistake Room. It is presented on the occasion of the 15th Istanbul Biennial which is taking place September 16–November 12, 2017.

For decades, Thater has explored the intersection between time-based and spatial dimensions and the moving image. Through manipulations of video projections, light, color, and architecture, she creates installations that transport viewers to a diversity of environments around the world. Collectively, the works in the exhibition reveal the interdependency amongst species—human and animal—and their fragile habitats whose viability, because of human activity, will determine their survival or extinction.

Three new installations incorporate video Thater produced in Kenya in 2016 and 2017. Conceived as portraits of rhinoceros and elephants and the landscape in which they live, the works are staged within a unique architectural environment of oversized free-standing X-shaped screen structures designed by the artist. The imagery of the massive animals is consistent against horizontal axes and bisected with pictures of their habitats. The installations create an immersive and somewhat disorienting experience as viewers circle the screens for a complete picture.

Ms. Forde said, “We are thrilled to present Diana Thater: A Runaway World following her critically acclaimed mid-career retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art two years ago. Her artistic practice is one that resonates strongly among artists in the Borusan Collection and many represented in the Istanbul Biennial. By depicting endangered species and threats to the environment, Diana’s installations are vivid contemplations about the planet’s future and, as she has done before through her work, an urgent call for action.”

As Radical as Reality (2017) is a window onto the confined world of the last surviving male Northern white rhinoceros. Protected from poachers by guards who accompany him at all times as he roams the grounds of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the rhino, named Sudan, represents the last hope of his species. Tragically, he has shown no interest in mating with the two females who also live at the Conservancy. Thater was given unprecedented access to film Sudan and his human companions over the duration of a week to capture their daily lives from a stunningly intimate perspective.
A Runaway World (2017) portrays a herd of elephants in Kenya’s Chyulu Hills. The elephants are projected on one screen as images of the terrain in which they reside are projected onto an intersecting one. This changing landscape, created by shifting images of these magnificent creatures and the land and sky, comes into focus only momentarily—reminding us of the fragility of ecosystems and humanity’s complicity with their survival.

Time Compressed (2017) was also filmed by Thater in Kenya in early 2017, in a mountainous area of the Chyulu Hills. She filmed a herd of bull elephants in the wild, a highly endangered species due to poaching and the illicit economies that fund it, and other indigenous animals. Displayed on a nine- monitor video wall, the present work combines different kinds of footage within the same image. It shows a landscape––a watering hole––shot over the course of one full day. The elephants and giraffes frequenting it were not present at the same time and were filmed separately, and likewise, the clouds were shot independently and their movement across the sky has been accelerated.

White is the Color (2002) is a series of images of white clouds projected onto the walls of a darkened space. Fluorescent tubes emit a brilliant white light to dissolve the edges of the projection. While seeming to be a meditative skyscape, the clouds are actually huge plumes of smoke billowing over Los Angeles from the wildfires of 2001. Thater’s works frequently play with notions of indoor and outdoor spaces. Her imagery of wildlife and natural environments often turns interiors into complex landscapes in which distinctions between real and artificial are blurred.

In Six Color Sun, Vertical Stack (2000), Thater employs images of the sun taken by the SOHO spacecraft footage from NASA. The artist learned that the images are separated into the component colors of light—red, green, and blue frequencies—for study by scientists. Thater took these and added the complementary colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow. These six colors are the primary and secondary colors of the video bandwidth, which she often deconstructs into its elements: color and light.

Diana Thater: A Runaway World will be on view on weekends between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm (last admission: 6:00 pm), September 16, 2017–February 18, 2018. Also on view throughout the facility during this period are selections of the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection, including works by Boomoon, François Morellet, and Rick Silva.

Borusan Contemporary
Borusan Contemporary is a multi-platform program of exhibitions, events, educational activities, new commissions, and site-specific installations rooted in the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection in Istanbul, Turkey. These activities are defined by their specific focus on media arts broadly defined, i.e. artists who work with time, light, technology, video, software, and beyond. Most of the program takes place at Perili Köşk Istanbul, and co-exists with the offices of Borusan Holding, in essence creating a unique museum in an office setting. The entire building including the galleries, office space, café, Borusan Art Store, and outdoor terraces with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus is open to the public on weekends.

Diana Thater. As Radical As Reality, 2017. Installation for two video projectors, two media players, and Altuglas Visio screens. 72 x 128 x 128 in. (182.9 x 325.1 x 325.1 cm.). Edition of 1, 1 AP, 1 of 1 EP. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London.