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The 13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme 2nd event: Public Address

The 13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme
Public Alchemy

Public Address
22–23 March 2013

How are we addressed as citizens? What registers of address are used by politicians, professors and publishers to speak to us; what form does such address take and in which way does it flow? Do so-called new media techniques offer alternative devices of communication or do they sustain hierarchies of address, suggesting radical distribution but in fact maintaining power in the hands of the technologically enabled?

Questioning the relation between public speech and private power, the second cluster of events of the 13th Istanbul Biennial Public programme asks if it is possible to find and sustain spaces of freedom of speech in the context of a neo-liberalised public domain. In the context of calls for an 'opening up' of media rights in China, debates about the suppression of journalism in Turkey, and the rights of private citizens against multinational conglomerate media intrusion in the UK and USA, what other modes of speech can we imagine? If 'to be addressed' suggests a certain technique of power, a certain relationship between the addresser and the addressed, what different spaces of audibility might be practiced?

FRIDAY, 22 MARCH 2013*
Venue: Istanbul Technical University, Maçka Campus C101 Conference Hall

18:00 Introduction: Fulya Erdemci & Andrea Phillips

18:15 Poetry reading: Ahmet Güntan’s poems by Fırat Demir (poet and art critic) & Burak Fidan (writer and publisher)

18:30 Presentation: Eren Erdem (writer)

Are We Free Enough?

Are we free enough on the land we live on? Is there an inclusive space of freedom in Turkey in which ideas can be expressed with no restriction? There is no doubt a lot that can be said about these questions. However, today an assessment of the issue based on lived facts rather than words might contribute more to our understanding of the truth. The increasingly centralized media, and the definitive influence of the government or the state over the media presents a great obstacle before freedom of expression becoming a reality for the press in Turkey. This could be explained in relation with the character of the state, but it is also related to the zeitgeist. In my opinion, freedom is the voice of the whole. In other words, it is the entirety of the condition in which all faiths and ideological groups that form society can express themselves unconditionally, without any obstacles. Freedom is for people who work in the press to eliminate the words “what if” from their literature. Sentences that begin with the words “what if” must be interred in the cemetery of history, and the concept of tolerability must become a thing of the past.

18:45 Coffee break

19:00 Lecture: Adbusters (culture jammers and publishers)

The Politics of the Mental Environment

Speak against the state and you’ll be silenced. Speak against the advertiser and you’ll be unemployed. Even where media is said to be ‘free,’ there are limits. Official, unofficial, real or imagined, everybody knows the rules. In the East, free speech is contrasted with responsibility, and in the West, freedom itself has become a condition of cultural indulgence, maybe even decline. Within this contested media space, capital is on the move. On your TV and radio waves. In the books and newspapers you read, the websites you frequent, the smart phones you swipe and tap, the songs you sing, even in the embraces you share with loved ones the emerging total-market of life, the mark of finance, is growing stronger, paving the way for the growth-at-all-costs paradigm sweeping the globe. As cultural producers at the praxis of history and modernity, where do you draw the line?

Venue: Istanbul Technical University, Maçka Campus C101 Conference Hall

14:00 2nd Improvisation: Cevdet Erek (artist and musician, lecturer at ITU TM Conservatoire and ITU Dept. of Architecture)

14:15 Talk: Robert Sember (member of the sound-art collective Ultra-red, public health researcher and community organizer)

Organized Sound | Organized Listening: Toward a Collective Practice

Since 1994, the sound-art collective Ultra-red has explored strategies for a synthesis of sound art, community organising, and research. In 2009, Ultra-red initiated its current phase of work, the School of Echoes, which marked a shift from composing to investigating strategies for collective listening. Ultra-red member Robert Sember will discuss the group’s approach to collectivity, pedagogy and sound-based investigations in relation to the project, ‘What is the sound of freedom?’

15:30 Coffee Break

16:00 Presentation: Dan Hind (writer)

From Mass Media to Public Media? Technology, Crisis and the Politics of Communication

Political systems and information technologies have always been intimately linked. After all, as David Hume noted, ‘the governors have nothing to support them but opinion.’ The modern nation state emerges only with the arrival of widespread literacy and affordable printing. Government in the twentieth century was heavily reliant on broadcasting. We have now reached a point where new technologies promise both a bright future of participation and a nightmare of surveillance and manipulation. The technologies themselves won't determine how government changes over the next few years. It is up to us to decide.

* All events will be in English except the poetry readings, Eren Erdem’s presentation. Simultaneous translation will be available for all events.

For reservations:

Ahmet Güntan was born in Izmir in 1955. He finished his primary school education at İzmir Güzelyalı Müdafa-i Hukuk Elementary School and his secondary education at Izmir Bornova Maarif High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University Department of Architecture. His poetry was first published in Birikim magazine in November 1977. Around the same time, he also published music articles in Yeni İnsan magazine. He rewrote the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song “Mr. Tambourine Man” in Turkish for Müslüm Gürses under the title “Hayat Berbat” [Life Sucks] (2006). “Parçalı Ham Manifesto” [Fragmentary Raw Manifesto], in which he expressed the need for a new poetry, was published in Kitap-lık magazine. After 2006, he published his Parçalı Ham poems in various magazines. He published the poetry fanzine Cehd (2006) with Efe Murad Balıkçıoğlu, and the weekly poetry magazine Mahfil (2008) with Ömer Şişman. He compiled Mustafa Irgat’s unpublished poems in Sonu Zor [The End is Difficult] (2011). In February 2011, he opened his personal blog (, which he has been writing since April 2009. He is the co-editor of the narrative series titled Raskol’un Baltası [Raskol’s Axe] with Burak Fidan since 2012.  

Fırat Demir was born in Istanbul on May 3, 1991. He is an undergraduate student at Istanbul University Department of Art History. A poet and an art critic, Demir’s reviews of contemporary art have been published in numerous dailies and periodicals such as BirGün, Bir+Bir, Milliyet Sanat. He has also contributed to literary and poetry magazines like Kitap-lık and Yasakmeyve with theoretical essays on poetry. In 2011, Demir coordinated the Istanbul and Mardin segment of “100 Thousand Poets for Change”, a worldwide set of events that took place simultaneously on September 24 of that year. In 2012, Demir’s first book of poetry, Yeni Cüret Çağı [Age of New Insolance], was published. Currently, Demir continues to write articles and essays on literature and contemporary art.

Burak Fidan was born in 1982 in Izmir. He studied public administration at Anadolu University. He carried out archive research on the short story writers of the 1950 generation and edited the following books: Her Şeyin Sonundayım [I am at the End of Everything], Batı Kültürü Önünde Hiçbir Saplantım Yok [I Have No Fixations Before Western Culture], Yüksel Arslan - Ferit Edgü Mektuplar 1957-2008 [The Correspondence of Yüksel Arslan and Ferit Edgü 1957-2008], Roman Medyadan Önce Gelir [The Novel Comes Before the Media], Az Roman [A Dash Of Novel]. He is the co-editor of the narrative series “Raskol’un Baltası” (Raskol’s Axe) with Ahmet Güntan at Edebi Şeyler publishing house, which he co-founded.

Eren Erdem was born in Fatih, Istanbul. He carried out many projects focusing on the inclusion of “Quran-based Islamic thought” in social debates, an issue that became a topic of discussion in Turkey in the early 2000s. The Internet forums he established contributed to the development of projects that would evolve into the “Quran and The Mind” symposium. He was among the significant conceptual developers of the idea “Hanif Islam, a return to the Quran.” In 2008, he began to publish his research in book form. He wrote a book on “Capitalism with Ablution”, a concept first proposed by Ali Shariati. His television program on Ulusal Kanal attracted widespread attention. The author’s work focuses on a theoretical elucidation of revolutionary Islamic thought in Turkey. In 2012, he was among the founders of Rebeze Culture House, named after the place of exile of poet Abu Dhar al-Gıffari, al-Rabadha. The centre organizes talks on the message of the Quran for the present times, historical perspective and the philosophy of history.

Cevdet Erek was born in, and lives and works at Istanbul. Erek participated in dOCUMENTA(13) with ‘Room of Rhythms’ (2012); the Istanbul Biennial (2011, 2003) and the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial (2012). A solo exhibition of his work titled ‘Week’ was held at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland in 2012. Erek was awarded the Nam June Paik Prize (2012) and the Uriot Prize with Studio (2005) during his residency at Rijksakademie vbk (2005-2006, Amsterdam). Erek has a PhD from ITU MIAM, Center for Advanced Studies in Music and works as an instructor at ITU TM State Conservatoire and Architecture Faculty. Erek is also the co-founder of Nekropsi and continues to perform with his band.

Adbusters Media Foundation is a global network of culture jammers and creators who are working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power and the way meaning is produced in society. Advertising-free since 1989, its flagship bimonthly publication, Adbusters magazine, is available worldwide, and has been instrumental in launching numerous global campaigns including Buy Nothing Day, Digital Detox Week,, and, most recently, Occupy Wall Street. Adbusters describe their work as ‘spoofing mega corporations, challenging the governing economic paradigm, publishing provocateurs and philosophical heretics, advocating for mental environmentalism and demanding the total reboot of the Western imagination.’

Robert Sember is a member of the sound-art collective Ultra-red, a public health researcher and community organizer. He is trained in performance studies and medical anthropology. He was a 2009-2010 fellow with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School in New York and is an artist-in-residence in London at the Centre for Possible Studies as part of the Serpentine Gallery’s Edgware Road project. He teaches at the Eugene Lang College of The New School and at the University of Amsterdam’s International School for Humanities and Social Sciences. Sember lives and works in New York City.

Dan Hind worked as a publisher for a decade, spending time at Penguin, Constable and Robinson, Duckworth and Random House. He was responsible for publishing a number of UK bestsellers, including Fast Food Nation, Love All The People, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, The Corporation and Treasure Islands. In 2009 he left the industry to write about media reform. He is now a regular columnist for Al Jazeera online, and works with the Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Tax Justice Network at City University, London. He has written two books, The Threat to Reason (2007) and The Return of the Public (2010).

Fulya Erdemci is the curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013. She acted as the director of SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam between June 2008 and September 2012. She also curated the Turkish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Art Biennial in 2011.

Dr. Andrea Phillips is currently a reader in the Fine Art Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London, and Director of the Doctoral Research Programmes in Fine Art and Curating. Dr. Phillips directs a number of international interdisciplinary research projects and she has published widely on art, curating, politics and public space.

Public Alchemy

The public programme of the 13th Istanbul Biennial examines the ways in which publicness can be reclaimed as an artistic and political tool in the context of global financial imperialism and local social fracture. From February to November 2013, a series of lectures, workshops, seminars, performances and poetry readings 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.

Future events:

Public Capital 10–11 May 2013
Becoming Public Subjects 14–15 September 2013
Future Publics/New Collectives 1–2 November 2013

Writing on Art

A workshop for emerging art critics will be held on throughout the public programme inviting a selection of writers to work with the Biennial curatorial team to develop critical writing on artistic and curatorial projects. The participants’ writing will be published in an online platform leading up to and during the biennial.

*The first-day talks of the 13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme ‘Public Address’ to be held on 23-24 March 2013 was postponed to Saturday, March 24 because of the protests.


Public Address, Bige Örer/ Fulya Erdemci/ Dr. Andrea Philipps: Introduction

Poetry reading: Ahmet Güntan’s poems by Fırat Demir & Burak Fidan

Public Address, Adbusters Media Foundation: Darren George Fleet/ Pedro Inoue Sardenberg: The Politics of the Mental Environment

Public Address, Dan Hind: From Mass Media to Public Media? Technology, Crisis and the Politics of Communication

Public Address, Robert Sember(member of the sound-art collective Ultra-red): Organized Sound | Organized Listening: Toward a Collective Practice