Immersive installation by artist Mehmet Ali Uysal at Le Bon Marché raises awareness on climate change

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Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche has given artist Mehmet Ali Uysal carte blanche to mark the White Sales month, which was first introduced by the department store’s founders Aristide et Marguerite Boucicaut in 1872. Entitled Su, which means “water” in Turkish, his installation combines natural and cultural elements for an artistic meditation on water and its two-fold vital and destructive power. The immersive installation runs until February 20.

The installation consists of two gigantic icebergs straddling the store’s emblematic escalator designed by Andrée Putman. The monumental suspended blocks of ice stretch down from the glass roof – representing the water level – to just above the heads of visitors. A symbol of the melting ice, the turquoise water then spreads to the display windows of the store thanks to a creative play of light.

The experience continues to the second level, where a large 17 by 8-meter white paper boat recalls folded paper boats made by children. The installation is like a modern-day Noah’s Ark, symbolizing hope for the world of tomorrow, saved from the rising waters.

Two special visits of the installation have been designed for children, accompanied by the artist and a storyteller.

The exhibition also includes a collaboration with Vendée Globe sailing race skipper Benjamin Dutreux, an ambassador of Water Family, an association that builds awareness of the importance of protecting water among children. The artist and yachtsman will host public conversations about climate change and their fascination with water, and offer a catalogue for sale with a microdonation option to raise funds for the association.

Mehmet Ali Uysal is known for creations that challenge our perception of space.  Playing with different scales, he defies the laws of nature to create spaces with surreal perspectives. Skin, one of his best-known installations, is an immense clothespin created in 2010 for the Vent des Forêts festival in Belgium’s Chaudfontaine park. In another work created at the Paris-Beijing Gallery in 2020 for the exhibition Ne m’Abandonne Pas, human legs sink into opaque white puddles.

Each year Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche invites a contemporary artist to create a site-specific work for the department store. The current Su exhibition follows Er – xi – Air de Jeux by Ai Weiwei (2016), Where are we going? by Chiharu Shiota (2017), Sous le Ciel by Leandro Erlich (2018), Branco Luz by Joana Vasconcelos (2019), ame nochi hana by Oki Sato and L’Amazone Erogène by Prune Nourry (2021). Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is delighted to welcome the work of Mehmet Ali Uysal, whose creations point to a more engaged future.