At the end of a party, there's often the question of how to best leave without making a fuss. Departing without saying goodbye is known as making a “French exit”—something Lithuania-based artist Tadao Cern relates to as a self-proclaimed introvert. “I cannot bear the attention that you get once you say that you have to go,” he tells My Modern Met. “A ping pong game starts in which you say ‘I have to go' and others reply ‘please don't go.'” His newest installation French Exit is named after and inspired by this relationship with goodbyes.
Cern suspended a field of dried grass from the ceiling to create an immersive viewing experience. Visitors walk underneath the golden plumes to consider both short-term and long-term farewells that they have to make in their lives. “The idea to create compositions of 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,” Cern says.
“I tried to focus more on the aspect of what we would be missing the most during the last seconds of leaving this place,” the artist continues. “My guess—it would be something banal, like fields of wheat during the sunset… Banality is a result of such a strong love and affection with something/somebody that you even get sick of it. And hanging everything on the ceiling creates an illusion of floating for the viewer as if you are being taken to the sky.” Within the field are sections where the grass has been pressed down to form a circle and a straight-line trail. These reliefs in the field give the viewer a place to take in the glow of the upside-down pasture.
“The first sketches of French Exit were created very soon before the COVID pandemic hit us,” Cern explains. “A little bit more than half 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. Everything started from just an idea and few sketches of it, but once the pandemic is over—hopefully we'll have a chance to contemplate our farewells in reality. If there is such a thing.”
Scroll down to see more images of French Exit, and follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with his latest projects.