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13th Istanbul Biennial

© Servet Dilber

About the 13th Istanbul Biennial

Through the unique interventions of artists, the biennial exhibition aims to explore further such pressing questions and will ask if art can foster the construction of new subjectivities to rethink the possibility of “publicness” today.

The 13th İstanbul Biennial, organized by İKSV, was held on 14 September–20 October 2013.

The notion of the public domain as a political forum is the focal point of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. This highly contested concept serve as a matrix to generate ideas and develop practices that question contemporary forms of democracy,  challenge current models of spatio-economic politics, problematize the given concepts of civilization and barbarity as standardized positions and languages and, above all, unfold the role of contemporary art as an agent that both makes and unmakes what is considered public.

The title of the Istanbul Biennial “Mom, am I barbarian?” is a quote from the Turkish poet Lale Müldür’s book of the same title. In the current context, what does it mean to be a barbarian? After all, galvanizing the limits of the civilized, the “barbarian” reflects the “absolute other” in society, circumnavigating the frames of identity politics and multicultural discourses. But, what does the reintroduction of barbarity as a concept reveal today? Is it a response to an urge to go beyond already existing formulas, towards the unknown? It may refer to a state of fragility, with potential for radical change (and/or destruction), thus, to the responsibility to take new positions.Through the unique interventions of artists, the biennial exhibition aims to explore further such pressing questions and will ask if art can foster the construction of new subjectivities to rethink the possibility of “publicness” today.

About Fulya Erdemci

The curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Fulya Erdemci is a curator and writer based in Istanbul. Erdemci was curator of the 2011 Pavilion of Turkey at the 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale. She was the Director of SKOR (Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte) Foundation For Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam between June 2008 - September 2012. Her projects at SKOR included: ‘Morality Wall: Between You and I’, four facade projects in collaboration with Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2010; ‘Actors, Agents and Attendants’, international research, symposium and publication series, the first edition, ‘Speculations on the Cultural Organisation of Civility’ was co-curated with Andrea Philips and Markus Miessen in 2010, and the second edition ‘Social Housing-Housing the Social’ (Amsterdam 2011) with Andrea Philips. Fulya Erdemci, was among the first directors 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.

About the Istanbul Biennial

The 1st Istanbul Biennial was organized by İKSV in 1987 under the title of Contemporary Art Exhibitions. After the first two biennials realized under the general coordination of Beral Madra in 1987 and 1989, the Foundation decided to adopt a single curator system. The 3rd Istanbul Biennial was directed by Vasıf Kortun in 1992. The 4th Istanbul Biennial was curated by René Block in 1995 and the following editions were curated by Rosa Martínez in 1997, Paolo Colombo in 1999, Yuko Hasegawa in 2001, Dan Cameron in 2003, Charles Esche and Vasıf Kortun in 2005, Hou Hanru in 2007; What, How & for Whom / WHW in 2009, Adriano Pedrosa and Jens Hoffmann in 2011. Fulya Erdemci was appointed curator for the 13th Istanbul Biennial scheduled for 2013.

Considered as one of the most prestigious biennials alongside Venice, São Paulo and Sydney, the Istanbul Biennial prefers an exhibition model which enables through the artists’ works a dialogue between artists and the audience, as opposed to a national representation model. The Biennial aims to create a platform of exchange between artists and art spectators from different cultural backgrounds as well as reviewing the city’s changing position in the world.

For further information on the Istanbul Biennial: