Could a biennial suit a city so much?

Could a biennial suit a city so much?

Lucky for me, I have not missed the Mardin Biennial since 2010 when it was first held. The fourth biennial began last week with the theme “Beyond Words.” In every biennial, we have seen the magical side of Mardin, with its historical buildings of pinkish yellow stones.

While visiting the old and new locations of the biennial, which will last until June 4, I cannot stop myself from thinking once again, “Could a biennial suit a city so much?” 

The enthusiasm for the Mardin Biennial

The Mardin Biennial has always managed to attract Mardin locals of all ages with great enthusiasm. This year is no different.

How else can you explain a 10-year-old child from Mardin yelling “John Gerrard’s cinema is here, come and see it” while selling cinnamon cookies at the garden of the German Headquarters (Alman Karargahı) at the same time?

I cannot completely understand what that child is saying, but they are also a part of the Mardin Biennal.

This year’s biennial has been curated by Fırat Arapoğlu, Nazlı Gürlek, and Derya Yücel. One of the biennial’s new locations is Yıldız Hamamı and the other is the Virgin Mary Church (Meryem Ana). The restoration of the Syrian Catholic Virgin Mary Church has only recently been completed. Its official opening was on May 10. 

Crowdfunding platform Fongogo

This year’s biennal exhibits the works of 50 artists, of which 18 are foreigners, in eight different locations. For the first time this year, the organization has utilized the crowdfunding platform Fongogo.

Fongogo helps those with ideas for a project but without the funds to bring it to life. The platform brings together the funds needed by gathering them through donations.

It is also possible to see the list of people who have contributed to a total donation of 85,000 Turkish liras (around $20,000) to Fongogo for the Mardin Biennal to be realized.

As much as I remember, the first and second edition of Mardin Biennal was actualized by the contribution of the Southeastern Anatolian Project (GAP) Regional Development Administration and the Mardin Governor’s Office.

A dynamic contributor like Fongogo lending a hand makes it possible for support for the biennial to increase exponentially, as well as for solidarity to rise for art.

Mardin hotels, restaurants jam-packed 

The opening day for the Mardin Biennial on May 4 was unbelievably crowded. Hotels, restaurants, streets, and shops were jam-packed.

The founder of the Cercis Murat Konağı restaurant, social entrepreneur Ebru Baybara Demir, who has had some hard times with her business, is now smiling.

Saha Association members have interpreted the heavy influx of Istanbul art-lovers to the city as “Istanbulites having discovered Mardin.”

On the other hand, the Ai Weiwei exhibition in Mardin and at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum are in perfect conjunction with one another.

Another piece of good news is the students of Dara elementary school in the ancient city of Dara (located 30 kilometers southeast of Mardin) will visit the biennial and the Ai Weiwei exhibition.

Mardin, Mardin Biennial, arts, arts festival, Turkey, opinion