Tadao Cern, an artist based out of Lithuania, has just put together an innovative new art exhibit that he calls ‘French Exit.’
The name refers to a term for leaving a party or other social gathering without formally saying “goodbye.” Cern, who is a self-professed introvert, says that the exhibit is intended to encourage all who see it to contemplate the human meaning of goodbyes, to immerse themselves in what it means to say “goodbye.”
“I cannot bear the attention that you get once you say that you have to go,” Cern told told My Modern Met in an interview. From this fact, it may not be too much to deduce that the exhibit also functions cathartically for Cern, allowing him to release and soothe his anxieties.
The Nature of the Exhibit
The exhibit itself consists of a massive suspended field of dried grass that hangs upside down from the ceiling. Viewers will have to contend with these massive plumes of golden vegetation as they pass through. And the fact that the grass is dried — that is, dead — and that it hangs upside down makes for an interesting reversal and inversion of the usual things associated with lush green fields. As such fields convey a sense of vibrant life, so Cern’s exhibits communicates an overhanging pall of death — and hence the sense of an end that always accompanies goodbyes.
“The idea to create a composition grass fields came into my mind because humankind has a constant urge to think about extinction and different variants of how the final days would look like and what would be the reason for it all,” he said.
Cern also mentions that “The first sketches of French Exit were created very soon before the COVID pandemic hit us.” He has evidently used his time under lockdown well. He reveals also that, “A little bit more than a year later, I was diagnosed with a depression and anxiety disorder, which hit very hard and made me rethink the notions of the project and come back to them again.”
This connection between French Exit and COVID-19 has an added poignancy, given the exhibit’s overall theme.