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13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme continues with Public Capital

10–11 May 2013
Public Capital

The aim of Public Capital is to examine the relationship between private capital, contemporary artistic production and the making of publics in the context of Istanbul’s burgeoning art scene. How does the art market shape the ways in which contemporary art is made public? How does money impact “autonomous” artistic production? How do the structures of the art market relate to broader questions of contemporary financialisation?

Various models of patronage are encouraged by individual art dealers, galleries, and art fairs, but do they offer beneficial survival strategies or enabling conditions for artists? Or are they just like the speculative financial operations that dominate contemporary capitalism? What are alternative ways in which artists, working individually or collectively, can control how money is exchanged over and around their work?

Can we imagine “public money,” an alchemical transformation of the basis of high finance?

Venue: The Marmara Taksim, Ortaköy and Beşiktaş Conference Rooms
Lecture-performance: Vermeir & Heiremans, Art House Index

Using codes of fiction and reality, Vermeir & Heiremans present Art House Index, a networked toolkit that merges art and real estate into one lucrative financial instrument. It elaborates on the transformation of an un-transparent, immobile product that is not easily tradable (like a house or art) into a transparent, virtual investment vehicle that is very accessible and thus valuable for a great number of investors.

Art House Index aims to critically assert art as a producer of value. Continuing their long-term research into the symbiosis of art, architecture, economy, and law, Vermeir & Heiremans generate in this lecture-performance the artistic and economic context for a speculative construct within and beyond the art market.

Venue: Salon İKSV

10.30 Introduction

Lecture: Alberto López Cuenca (Universidad de las Américas Puebla,  Mexico): Work, Walls, Wealth: Artistic Labour and the Commons

Since the Industrial Revolution, artistic labour has held an ambiguous position within the logic of the capitalist market. While it has been materially inscribed in the general working conditions set forth by capitalism, it has not always conformed to those conditions. While it has been part of the logic of the market of symbolic goods, it has not been totally regulated by that logic.

In this ambiguity lies the capacity of artistic labour to activate social processes that foster precisely that which is threatened by the logic of the market: social wealth. In opposition to the privatisation of labour and material resources that capitalism demands, social wealth—from ideas to land and software—is shared and held in common. In the conditions set by the financial global economy, it is relevant to ponder whether artistic labour can still work for the enrichment of this collective wealth.

Lecture: Suhail Malik (Goldsmiths, University of London):  Contemporary Art / Market / Power
Discussant: Haldun Dostoğlu (Galeri Nev İstanbul)

How does the contemporary art market shape culture? Its direct impact and influence on art’s visibility and circulation is obvious, though much is kept highly obscure even here in order to maintain its power effects. What is harder to ascertain is how the contemporary art market’s operations support the redistribution of power to elite capital accumulation across the societies in which contemporary art has some public attention—that is, how contemporary art, its market, and the publicly minded art institutions shadowing that market abet the construction of a civic culture mindful of increasingly centralised elite capital accumulation while diffusing the political resources to arrest it (let alone undo it).

Panel Discussion: Public Institution / Private Capital

The institutions that support artists and exhibit their work rely increasingly on private funding. How does this impact not only the conditions of artistic production, but also the institutions in which contemporary art is exhibited and disseminated? How do various forms of private sponsorship, collaboration, and patronage—from collectors’ circles to auction houses—affect the ways in which art is made public? Can art institutions still aim to benefit the public interest while being funded by private companies? What is the effect of the corporatisation of their programming?

Vasıf Kortun / SALT, İstanbul
Maria Lind / Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm
Barnabás Bencsik / Ludwig Museum, Budapest
Kuba Szreder / Free/Slow University of Warsaw



Vermeir & Heiremans live and work in Brussels. In 2006, Vermeir & Heiremans initiated A.I.R (short for “artist in residence”), a collaborative practice that examines the dynamic relation between art, architecture, economy and law. This ongoing project defines the private habitat of the artists as an artwork, transforming the domestic space into a public realm. Audiences will not experience the "art house" physically, but through “mediated extensions” like lectures, exhibitions, video works among others.

Vermeir & Heiremans have presented work in, among others, the 10th Istanbul Biennial (2007), Arnolfini, Bristol (2009), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2009), Kassel Documentary Film Festival (2009), Nam June Paik Art Center, Seoul (2010), ARGOS, Brussels (2012), EXTRA CITY, Antwerp (2012), 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial (2012), Manifesta 9 (Genk) (2012).

Alberto López Cuenca is a reader in the Department of Humanities, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico, where he teaches contemporary art theory and philosophy. He has a PhD in philosophy from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and has been visiting scholar at Columbia University and Goldsmiths University of London. His research interests include contemporary art theory, intellectual property and new cultural forms, creative labour, and post-Fordism. He has widely published and lectured on these topics, especially in Latin America. He is the co-editor of two books in Spanish: Propiedad intelectual, nuevas tecnologías y libre acceso a la cultura (Intellectual Property, New Technologies, and Free Access to Culture) (Centro Cultural de España/UDLAP, 2008) and ¿Desea guardar los cambios? Propiedad intelectual y nuevas tecnologías (Save Changes? Intellectual Property and New Technologies) (CCE Córboba, 2009).

Suhail Malik writes on political economy, theory, and art’s axioms. He holds a readership in critical studies at Goldsmiths, London, where he is programme co-director of the MFA Fine Art. For 2012–13 Malik is visiting faculty at the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York. His recent publications include “The Politics of Neutrality: Constructing a Global Civility” in The Human Snapshot (2013); “Tainted Love: Art’s Ethos and Capitalization” (with Andrea Phillips) in Art and Its Commercial Markets (2012); “Image—Nonimage—War” in Ekfrase (2012); “Why Art? The Primacy of Audience” in Global Art Forum, Dubai (2011); “Educations Sentimental and Unsentimental: Repositioning the Politics of Art and Education” in Redhook Journal (2011); and “Screw (Down) the Debt: Neoliberalism and the Politics of Austerity” in Mute (2010).

Haldun Dostoğlu was born in 1951 in Ankara. He graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at Middle Eastern Technical University in 1976. From 1976 to 1984, he worked as an architect first in Ankara and later in Philadelphia. In May 1984, with Ali Artun, he opened Galeri Nev in Ankara. In 1987, he opened Galeri Nev, İstanbul.

Dostoğlu has curated retrospective exhibitions of Erol Akyavaş, Nejad Devrim and Alev Ebüzziya and also the exhibitions “Mehmet Güleryüz- 25 Years in Art”, “The Çağa Collection”, and “Two Generations Across The Rainbow– Fahrelnissa Zeid, Nejad Devrim”.

Haldun Dostoğlu has edited monographs of Mehmet Güleryüz, Erol Akyavaş, Canan Tolon, İnci Eviner and Mubin Orhon, in addition to nearly one hundred artist’s and exhibition catalogues. He has acted as consultant to many private collections. From 1987 to 2013, he organized more than two hundred exhibitions at Galeri Nev, Istanbul.

Vasıf Kortun is director of research and programs at SALT, a cultural institution that cultivates innovative programs for research and experimental thinking. He teaches on contemporary art, cultural institutions and exhibition practices at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano (NABA). Kortun is a board member of the International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) for the 2010-2013 term; he has also been a board member of Foundation for Arts Initiatives since 2005, and is on the advisory board of NABA. Among international institutions where Kortun has delivered lectures in 2012 and 2013 are Tokyo Wonder Site (Japan), Raw Material Company (Senegal), and Houston Museum of Fine Arts and Canadian Centre for Architecture (Canada). Kortun was the curator of the FOCUS on Turkey section of the ARCOmadrid 2013 international contemporary art fair, and was also a member of the curatorial committee for the Back to the Future section of the Artissima 19 fair organized in Torino. In 2011, Kortun was the curator of the United Arab Emirates pavilion for the 54th Venice Biennale.

Maria Lind is a curator and critic, and the director of Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm. Between 2008 and 2010 she was the director of the graduate programme of the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, and between 2005 and 2007, director of Iaspis in Stockholm. She was the director of Kunstverein Munich between 2002 and 2004. From 1997 to 2001, she was the curator at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and, in 1998, co-curator of Manifesta 2. She has contributed widely to newspapers, magazines, catalogues, and other publications. Among her recent co-edited publications are Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios and Performing the Curatorial: With and Beyond Art (both Sternberg Press). She is the 2009 recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement. In 2010, Sternberg Press published Selected Maria Lind Writing.

Barnabás Bencsik is a curator who lives and works in Budapest. He earned his degree in the history of art from ELTE University, Budapest. From 1990 to 1999 he ran the Studio Gallery, Budapest, and he was visual arts program coordinator at Soros Centre for Contemporary Arts in Budapest between 1993 and 1995. He worked at the Trafo Gallery, Budapest, from 1999 to 2001. He was also chief curator of Műcsarnok|Kunsthalle. Between 2001 and 2002 he was the artistic director of MEO—Contemporary Art Collection, Budapest, and since 2002 he has worked as an independent curator. He initiated, and since 2006 has been the director of, ACAX|Agency for Contemporary Art Exchange. In March 2008 he was appointed director of Ludwig Museum—Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, for 2008–2013.

Kuba Szreder is a graduate of sociology at Jagiellonian University (Kraków). He works as an independent curator. His interdisciplinary projects actively engage with the public sphere, combine artistic practices with other formats of cultural production and a critical examination of society. In 2009, he initiated Free / Slow University of Warsaw and since then has been a close cooperator of Bęc Zmiana Foundation. His research is focused on critical reflection about artistic apparatus and its position in contemporary capitalism. In 2009, he started his practice-based PhD at Loughborough University School of the Arts, in which he scrutinizes the economic and governmental aspects of project making and their impact on an 'independent' curatorial practice.

The 13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme, titled Public Alchemy, examines the ways in which public-ness 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, this 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.

13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme: Public Alchemy

Co-curated by Fulya Erdemci and Andrea Phillips
Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts

The 13th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme, titled Public Alchemy, 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, this 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:

Becoming Public Subjects: 14–15 September 2013
Future Publics / New Collectives: 1–2 November 2013

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

Public Capital, Alberto López Cuenca: Work, Walls, Wealth: Artistic Labour and the Commons

Public Capital, Suhail Malik: Contemporary Art / Market / Power, Discussant: Haldun Dostoğlu

Public Capital, Vasıf Kortun / Barnabás Bencsik /Kuba Szreder /Maria Lind: Public Institution / Private Capital*

* Maria Lind's speech is not broadcast as per the speaker's request.