Monday, January 7, 2013


Istanbul Biennial to explore the public domain
Organisers launch a series of forums across the city in lead up to event

By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 08 January 2013

In contrast to the Istanbul biennial of 2011, which was held in one venue, the Antrepo complex of former warehouses on the banks of the Bosphorus, the 13th edition held this autumn will once again spread out across the city, with buildings such as former courthouses and schools acting as temporary venues. The curator Fulya Erdemci today outlined the conceptual framework of the biennial (14 September-10 November) which is entitled “Mom, am I Barbarian?”

According to a press statement, Erdemci’s highly academic vision will explore “the notion of the public domain as a political forum”, touching on the notions of democracy, civilisation, barbarity, and social engagement. An aim of the biennial is to re-examine the concept of “publicness” (installations may also be displayed in shopping malls, hotels and office buildings). 

Along with Andrea Phillips, a reader in fine art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Erdemci plans to launch an ambitious public programme, called “Public Alchemy”, in the months prior to the biennial, consisting of lectures, workshops and seminars held in Istanbul over five weekends. The first session, “Making the City Public” (8-10 February), will address “the social and cultural impact of Istanbul’s urban transformation and citizens’ reactions to this”. Future forums include “Public Address”, (22-23 March), “Becoming Public Subjects” (14-15 September) and “Future Publics/New Collectives” (1-2 November).

The biennial advisory board includes curatorial heavyweights such as Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the artistic director of Documenta13, along with Jack Persekian, the director of the Jerusalem-based Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art. The 13th Istanbul Biennial is sponsored by Koç Holding, the Turkish conglomerate which has agreed to support five Istanbul biennials, dating from 2007 until 2016. 

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