Public takes on politics at 13th Biennial

Public takes on politics at 13th Biennial

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Public takes on politics at 13th Biennial

Fulya Erdemci (left), the curator of 13th Istanbul Biennial and Bige Örer, Director of the Istanbul Biennial.

Titled “Mom, am I barbarian?” 13th Istanbul Biennial, inspired by the book of the same name by poet Lale Müldür, Will focus on the notion of the public domain as a political forum, biennial curator Fulya Erdemci announced on Jan. 9 at a press conference at Istanbul Technical University. Erdemci was joined by Bige Örer, Director of the Istanbul Biennial, and public program co-curator Dr. Andrea Phillips.

The biennial will be held from Sept. 14 to Nov. 10 by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) under the sponsorship of Koç Holding.

According to Erdemci, the biennial’s concept will serve as a matrix to generate ideas and develop practices that question contemporary forms of democracy, challenge current models of spatio-economic politics, the problems that arrive from given concepts of civilization and barbarity, and most importantly, highlight the role of art in this context.

Questioning what the reintroduction of the concept of “barbarian” as a reflection of “absolute other” reveals in our contemporary society, Erdemci referred to art’s potential for engendering new positions and constructing new subjectivities for the sake of creating a space for the weakest and most excluded ones by destabilizing dominant and deep-seated discourses.

Erdemci further explained that the Istanbul Biennial aims to highlight the potential of public domain discourse through an examination of spatial justice, art in the public domain and art-market relations. Aspiring to open new avenues for thought and imagination, the Istanbul Biennial will activate social engagement in the public to generate the possibility of reimagining the concept of “public.”

Using public buildings
The biennial will use public buildings that were temporarily left vacant by urban transformation as exhibition venues. These may include courthouses, schools, military structures or post offices, former transportation hubs like train stations and ex-industrial sites such as warehouses and dockyards, as well as the contested Taksim Square and Gezi Park. The hallmarks of current urbanism, such as shopping malls, hotels and office-residential towers, are being considered sites for artistic interventions as well.

Örer discussed the Istanbul Biennial Public Program, which aims to bring artistic production and knowledge production together. Titled “Public Alchemy,” it is co-curated by Erdemci and Phillips, who is the Reader in Fine Art at the Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of Doctoral Research Programs in Fine Art and Curating. A series of lectures, workshops, seminars and performances taking place from February to the end of the biennial will examine how a political, poetic alchemy is at work – both in Turkey and across the world – in which conventional concepts of “the public” are being transformed. The first events of the program will focus on Istanbul’s current urban transformation under the title of “Making the City Public,” starting Feb. 8 and 10.

Programs of the biennial
As a part of events, a special selection of films will be screened at the 32nd Istanbul Film Festival, to be held from March 30 to April 14. The Istanbul Biennial film screening program will articulate the relationship between barbarity, civic awakening and the city.

A workshop for emerging art critics will be held throughout the public program, inviting a selection of writers to work with the biennial curatorial team to develop new writing on artistic and curatorial projects. The writing will be published in an online platform leading up to and during the biennial. Writers will be selected from an open call. Detailed information can be found on the Istanbul Biennial website.

Artists who would like to apply to participate in the 13th Istanbul Biennial should send their project proposals together with their portfolios to by March 1. The list of participants and projects in the biennial will be finalized in June.