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The conceptual framework of the Istanbul Biennial was announced: 'Mom, am I barbarian?'

The title and conceptual framework of the 13th Istanbul Biennial was announced by its curator Fulya Erdemci on Tuesday, 8 January at a press meeting which was held at the Maçka Campus of Istanbul Technical University. Bige Örer, Director of the Istanbul Biennial, joined Fulya Erdemci as a speaker at the press meeting. Fulya Erdemci, who determined the title of the 13th Istanbul Biennial as “Mom, am I barbarian?” with a reference from poet Lale Müldür’s book of the same title, explained the conceptual framework.


Fulya Erdemci & Bige Örer, Photo by: Manuel Çıtak

At the press meeting, Fulya Erdemci announced that, as an exhibition in a dialogue with the city, the 13th Istanbul Biennial’s focal point would be the notion of the public domain as a political forum. According to Erdemci, this highly contested 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, problematise 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 ones and the most excluded by destabilising dominant and deep-seated discourses.

Erdemci further explained that the Istanbul Biennial aimed to highlight the potential of the discourse of public domain 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 and public fora to generate a possibility for rethinking the concept of “publicness”.

The 13th Istanbul Biennial will use public buildings which are left temporarily vacant by urban transformation as exhibition venues. These may include public buildings such as courthouses, schools, military structures or post offices, former transportation hubs like train stations, ex-industrial sites such as warehouses, dockyards as well as the very contested Taksim Square and Gezi Park. Furthermore, the hallmarks of current urbanism such as shopping malls, hotels and office-residential towers are being considered as sites for artistic interventions.

Bige Örer also disclosed the details of the 13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme, which will start in February as a part of 13th Istanbul Biennial. Aiming for bringing artistic production and knowledge production together, the public programme, titled “Public Alchemy”, is co-curated by Fulya Erdemci and Dr. Andrea Phillips, Reader in Fine Art in the Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of the Doctoral Research Programmes in Fine Art and Curating. A series of lectures, workshops, seminars and performances, which will take 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 programme will focus on Istanbul’s current urban transformation under the title of “Making the City Public” from 8 to 10 February.

Additionally, as a part of 13th Istanbul Biennial events programme, a special selection of films will be screened at the 32nd Istanbul Film Festival to be held in 30 March – 14 April. The Istanbul Biennial film screening programme will articulate the concepts of barbarity, civic awakening and the city.

After the meeting organised with the participation of the press and the contemporary art professionals, curator Fulya Erdemci and the Director of Istanbul Biennial Bige Örer answered the questions. Public programme co-curator Dr. Andrea Phillips was also present in the press meeting.

CURATOR
As a curator and writer Fulya Erdemci, who was the director of the Istanbul Biennial (1994-2000), was director of Proje 4L in Istanbul (2003-2004) and worked as temporary exhibitions curator at Istanbul Modern (2004-2005). She was invited to curate the ‘Istanbul’ section of the 25th Biennale of São Paulo ‘Metropolitan Iconographies: Cities’ in 2002 and joined the curatorial team of the 2nd Moscow Contemporary Art Biennial ‘Footnotes on Geopolitics, Market and Amnesia’ (2007). Erdemci initiated the ‘Istanbul Pedestrian Exhibitions’ in 2002, the first urban public space exhibition in Turkey that centred on the “pedestrian” and co-curated the second edition in 2005 with Emre Baykal. In 2008 Erdemci co-curated SCAPE “Wandering Lines: Towards A New Culture of Space”, the 5th Biennial of Art in Public SPACE in Christchurch, New Zealand with Danae Mossman, presenting the work of 25 international artists throughout the urban spaces of Christchurch city. She was the director of SKOR | Foundation For Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam between June 2008 and September 2012. Erdemci has served on international advisory and selection committees. Erdemci has taught at Bilkent University (1994–1995), Istanbul University and Marmara University (1999–2000) and at Istanbul Bilgi University’s MA Programme in Visual Communication Design (2001–2007). Erdemci was curator of the 2011 Pavilion of Turkey at the 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale.

ADVISORY BOARD
The advisory board consists of the artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13) Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, artist Ayşe Erkmen, art consultant Melih Fereli, director of Exhibitions and Public Programs and chair of the Exhibitions and Museum Studies Program at San Francisco Art Institute Hou Hanru and director of the Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jack Persekian.

SPONSOR
The 13th Istanbul Biennial, which is organised by İKSV from 14 September to 10 November 2013 is sponsored by Koç Holding. Koç Holding is the “Biennial Sponsor” of all five Istanbul Biennials between 2007 and 2016.

VISUAL IDENTITY
The visual identity and publications for the 13th Istanbul Biennial are prepared by the designer Ruben Pater, LAVA Amsterdam.

WRITING ON ART WORKSHOP
A workshop for emerging art critics will be held throughout the public programme inviting a selection of writers to work with the biennial curatorial team to develop new writing on artistic and curatorial projects. 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 at the Istanbul Biennial website.

PROJECT APPLICATIONS
Artists who would like to apply to participate in the 13th Istanbul Biennial should send their project proposals together with their portfolios to application.biennial@iksv.org until 1 March 2013. The list of participants and projects of the 13th Istanbul Biennial will be finalized in June.

Please click here for detailed information.