artists & participants
ORIENT/ATION The end of the 20th century is a time of movable juxtapositions : Nothing remains as it is (Nichts bleibt wie es ist). The margins move towards the centre and the old-established frontiers shift to the periphery. Fixed systems dissolve in drifting passages. In the absence of social justice, no peaceful coexistence and none of the political utopias have succeeded against the "terror of realisation" (Heiner Müller). The common strategies of politics and ideology have failed -creating a void, an ideal situation for fanatics of creed and color and any ambition. At the same time, art and artists have decolonized from being utilised through ideologies. They define their field using forms, materials, contents and contexts now according to the dictates of their own responsibility, language and mythology. The 4th International İstanbul Biennial took the challenge to locate the common ground of artists from all over the world to create an open atmosphere of visual arguments and discussions.
CULTURAL WORKSHOP - İSTANBUL From a eurocentric view all the young Biennials take place at geographical margins: Sao Paolo, Sydney, İstanbul, Johannesburg, Kwangju (Korea). Each of these cities represents its own cultural tradition and context. By organizing a Biennial they become centers for intercultural communication, each with a special focal point. İstanbul is the urban link between Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus, the "golden gate", bridges the gulf between two continents, different religious concepts, two world orders. Orient and Occident, East and West meet and amalgamate in blue waters of the Bosphorous, which both divides and unites these contradictions. Beside this key topographic position, İstanbul also represents the place where tradition and modernism meet. The cultural heritage of Byzantium and Constantinople merges with the megalopolis of today with 14 million inhabitants. The participation of artists from all over the world in the 4th International İstanbul Biennial 1995 generated an international workshop of ideas and exchange. The opportunity to have the experience of creating utopias in a paradoxical world could not be more significantly sited than in İstanbul.
THE SPACE The main building of the Biennial was the Antrepo I, a former customs warehouse by the Bosphorus. It is located close to Galata bridge which connects the historic city-centre with the urban part of the modern times. From the terrace of the Antrepo one can see Asia on the other side. Other venues for site-specific works were the early Christian Church, Hagia Eirene Museum and the magnificent Yerebatan Cistern. These three very different but centrally positioned venues offered unique possibilities for installing exhibitions, as well as a unique challenge for art and artists.
THE SELECTION OF ARTISTS Different from the Biennials of Venice and Sao Paolo the İstanbul Biennial did not present national contributions from invited countries. The Artistic Director of the İstanbul Biennial, René Block, invited artists from different countries in correspondance with curators of particular countries. To underline the non-national concept, the selection of artists has been focused especially on the international diaspora of artists. The national coordinators assist in organizing catalogue information and promotion materials, supervise transport, logistics and insurance, as well as the final installation of the works.
OPENING SPEECH Orient/ation: towards a better world Speech by René Block on occassion of the announcement of the participating artists of the 4th International İstanbul Biennale, September 13, 1995
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends ,
I have been asked to give a short introduction into the progress of and the ideas behind the forthcoming Biennale of İstanbul. As there seemed to exist a lot of misunderstandings during the last weeks about this Biennale in rumors and printing, I happily take this opportunity to give some explanations.
WHAT IS A BIENNALE, AND WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR THE ARTSCENE OF ISTANBUL?
The idea of Biennales was born one hundred years ago in Venice, where the centenial jubilee festivities are coming to their end during this month. This idea is based on a very simple structure: countries which are interested to participate send their artists every second year to Venice where they have to build their own national exhibition space, the pavillions in the Giardini, and pay for all the costs. This idea emerged at the same time, when the international trade exhibitions, the World-Expos, were introduced to the public, when countries in Europe were connected by an international train system. Also we should not forget that there were no international art exhibitions organized at that time and it was a need to start such exchanges and meetings. Since that first Biennale from 1895 we can observe a constant and rapid spreading of international exhibitions of any kind at any place in the world. But we can also observe that some cities followed that biennial idea of Venice and created their own Biennales - often limited to certain aspects as prints, sculpture, ceramics. With Sao Paulo, Sydney, Havanna, İstanbul and the very new Biennales of Johannesburg and Kwangju, Korea, the original Venice Biennale idea was not only copied but enriched for two very important aspects: the meeting of western art outside of Central Europe with different cultural traditions and to function as workshops for young artists and the international avantgarde. In my opinion, it is an interesting phenomenon that these young Biennales reflect: the new cultural self-confidence of Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Orient, as well as the readiness of this new metropoles to start an ongoing international dialogue. Does a place like İstanbul need such a dialogue at all? The only answer can be : yes, it does. İstanbul is the art centre of Turkey. In this, by tradition, multicultural melting pot, a big number of artists are living and working. These artists represent a great potential of creativity and energy that exists in hidden places quite often isolated from society. But it is a fact that no modern society, no nation can survive ignoring its own potential of creativity: writers without publishers, artists without curators and exhibition places (usually called Museums of Contemporary Art) , filmmakers without film distributers and cinemas, composers without audience would mark the end of cultural identity. It would lead back to a status of precivilisation in an only consumption orientated world. In the clash between the conservative spirit of religion and the dull contemporary mass media, only the artistic creativity, as an alternative force, can save our society in the future. The progress of a modern society in peace, liberality and democracy is very fragile . Wherever we look around, we seem to live in a paradoxical world. Everybody knows how beautiful this world could be and everybody plays his own part in destroying it: which starts by driving a car and ends by conducting a war. Without forcing myself I arrived already at a point where the motto of this year's Biennale has to be mentioned and explained.
Orient/ation, the vision of art in a paradoxical world.
It was in February of this year when Esen Karol, the designer of the catalogue visited me in Stuttgart to learn more about the theme. As I could not explain my thoughts in words, I started to make a drawing where some arrows show different directions from a small central circle. And in a spontaneous idea I gave them names of directions in wrong order. "This is what I mean", I said and in a way I still say. The more I was surprised when I found an explanation for my drawing in an essay by Prof. Arthur C. Danto from the Columbia University which was written for the catalogue.
The Biennale of İstanbul sees the very idea of a center absurd in the world today, and its polemic is embodied in its brilliantly drawn "Orientation" emblem, which is a cartoon of a compass whose center is nowhere and where North and South are adjacent points, West seems to be missing, and İstanbul is itself a point.The compass has lost its function in 'the vision of art in paradoxical world': the İstanbul emblem declares the city's appropriateness as a site in a world without directions or hierarchy.
For myself, by finding this title for this Biennale, to be held at the border to an oriental world, I was extremly fascinated that the word Orient is the main subject in words like orientation in French and English or Orientierung in German. It cannot be a coincidence that in all these languages, the geographical aspect "orient" is the source. This title, this motto made me focus the exhibition towards the location of İstanbul, the historical importance of this city and its geographical position. Therefore, I use the concept 'Orient/ation' not by chance but as a dynamic concept. Subject of this Biennale, as of all Biennales, is contemporary art. A contemporary art, which in the case of the İstanbul Biennale is partly related to Eastern tradition. The so-called 'oriental' artists, who have concerned themselves with their Eastern culture, are of course related to it. This tradition is felt in their works, even if these works are using the aesthetics of an internationally understandable artistic language. As "Orient" is the one central aspect of this Biennale, I was, besides the Turkish artists, specially interested in those of the geographical neighbours: Iran, Irak, Syria, Lebanon, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and the states of the Balkans paralized by the Bosnian civil war. From these countries only Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bulgaria participate officially. The important artists of Iran, Irak, Syria live abroad, as they would not be able to articulate their art in their homecountries. This living in a diaspora, caused by political realities in some countries, has been subject to many recent discussions, as well as the recent nomadism of many artists in their free will. These are phenomena we have to deal with. These emigrations have brought a very positive influence to the countries of immigration , it simply enriches their cultural life. Some western countries have accepted and honored these circumstances. As a result, states like Great Britain, France, Germany and the USA support this Biennale by sending their own and 'foreign' artists in equal parts. And here I like to point out, that especially in all the oriental countries the women artists play a very important part. They have occupied many of the most important and radical positions, which is a fact for artists from Turkey as well as for those who have left Iran, Irak or Palestina. This is another phenomenon that this Biennal will reflect upon.
THE ARTISTS From the 110 artists, 39 are women, which is almost 40%. While the few older generation is men dominated, the majority of the very young artists, aged between 25 and 30 are women. From Turkey I have invited 19 artists. Four of them work mainly abroad, three live in other cities than İstanbul. We have received more than 60 applications of high qualification. I have visited with the Biennial team Fulya Erdemci, Emre Baykal and Sabine Vogel many studios, collections and galleries. With these 19 artists, I could only invite a small number to participate with their works in the exhibition. But I like to invite all the others to participate with their thoughts and behaviours. We expect more than one hundred foreign artists and curators to visit İstanbul. They bring a lot of new ideas and inspirations to this city and they will take a lot back from here. Invitations to exhibitions are subjective decisions, related to the theme. For another theme, for instance, "Art and Technology" I would have selected different artists. A Biennale, like any other exhibition, is not a competition, is not measure of quality. In this case it shows which artists from different countries met my imagination about the appearance of this exhibition in the three places. In only two years there will be the next Biennale. Another curator, another theme, another appearance.
THE PLACES The location, where an exhibition will be placed is as important as the theme. Both have to coincide. The three places mirror the concept of a vision of art in a paradoxical world. Shall we work in the underground as in the Yerebatan Cistern, shall we hide and continue the dialogue with the past as in the Hagia Eirene or shall we open some windows to different directions as in the former custom house Antrepo at the Bosphorus, where life, work, unloading and loading of ships is still going on in a few meters of distance. All this three venues together are the most magnificent and inspiring exhibition places to think about. A worldwide unique situation.
THE PORTFOLIO This worldwide unique situation, the arrival of many artists from abroad, the participation of 19 Turkish artists and the preparation of the Antrepo-building are not only a present from heaven. The İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has to pay for it and has to find partners who are willing to contribute. So do some of the artists by making a special print for the Biennale, as a gift. These prints will be put together to the Orient/ation printportfolio. The size is 70 x 100 cm. The edition is limited to 50 copies. The artists of the portfolio are:
Ayşe Erkmen Rebecca Horn Alfredo Jaar Ilya Kabakov Per Kirkeby Komar & Melamid Jannis Kounellis Olaf Metzel Tatsuo Miyajima Aydan Murtezao?lu Nam June Paik Sarkis Serge Spitzer Rosemarie Trockel Ken Unsworth Lawrence Weiner Richard Wentworth Maaria Wirkkala
It will be shown during the Biennale at Antrepo and will be for sale for museums and collectors worldwide.
THE OUVERTURE Ladies and Gentlemen, with great pleasure we announce today the names of the confirmed participating artists - a very few are still in negotiation. Lists in alphabetic order are prepared for you. But more important than their printed names will be their contribution. So - fortunately - there will be still surprises for you to be expected at the opening. One very big surprise will open already on October 13 at the Atatürk Cultural Center. The new director of the Goethe Institute İstanbul, Kurt Scharf and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Affairs in Stuttgart will present an exhibition with the title: "Eine lange Geschichte mit vielen Knoten . Fluxus in Deutschland 1962-1994." This exhibition contains authentic historical audiovisual material of early concerts and performances of this most radical and first international art movement, which started by coincidence in the small German town of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt where in 1962 probably the craziest artists, writers and composers met And where they started their attacks against the academic, bourgeois and commercial art world by destroying a piano. As an irony of history many of them are recognized as the most influencial artists of the second half of this century: Joseph Beuys, George Brecht, John Cage, Nam June Paik. As this exhibition is the last one that I have curated for the Institute for Foreign Cultural Affairs in Stuttgart I am very happy to see its first presentation abroad from Germany here in İstanbul.
Participating Artists :
Ken Unsworth - Australia Mikala Dwyer - Australia Rosemary Laing - Australia Anne Schneider - Austria Maria Lassnig - Austria Romuald Hazoumé - Benin Jusuf Hadzifejzovic - Bosnia-Herzegovina Sanjin Jukic - Bosnia-Herzegovina Nusret Pasic - Bosnia-Herzegovina Fernanda Gomes - Brasil Luchezar Boyadjiev - Bulgaria Nedko Solakov - Bulgaria Pravdoliub Ivanov - Bulgaria Carlos Montes de Oca - Chile Goran Petercol - Croatia Osvaldo Yero Montero - Cuba Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho) - Cuba Per Kirkeby - Denmark Björn Norgaard - Denmark Kirsten Ortwed - Denmark Jyrki Siukonen - Finland Maaria Wirkkala - Finland Henrietta Lehtonen - Finland Ghada Amer - France Gilles Barbier - France Mohammed El Baz - France Osman Dinç - France Jean-Baptiste Bruant - France Sophie Calle - France Sarkis - France Pierrick Sorin - France Ben Vautier - France Reza Farkhondeh - France Raymond Hains - France Stéphane Magnin - France El Loko - Germany Olaf Metzel - Germany Milovan De Stil Markovic - Germany Hermann Pitz - Germany Sigmar Polke - Germany Yufen Qin - Germany Karin Sander - Germany Joseph Beuys - Germany Marcel Broodthaers - Germany Rosemarie Trockel - Germany İskender Yediler - Germany Adem Yılmaz - Germany Jinshi Zhu - Germany Maria Eichhorn - Germany Rolf Julius - Germany Igor Kopystiansky - Germany Svetlana Kopystiansky - Germany Rebecca Horn* - Germany Tiong Ang - Holland Marina Abramovic - Holland Tom Claassen - Holland Suchan Kinoshita - Holland Job Koelewijn - Holland Roy Villevoye - Holland Balazs Beöthy - Hungary Finnbogi Pétursson - Iceland Zvi Goldstein - Israel Micha Ullman - Israel Jannis Kounellis - Italy Maurizio Nannucci - Italy Noritoshi Hirakawa - Japan Shigeko Kubota - Japan Tatsuo Miyajima - Japan Duck-Hyun Cho - Korea Nam June Paik - Korea Snieguole Michelkeviciute - Lithuania Zaneta Vangeli - Macedonia Diego Medina - Mexico Björn Sigurd Tufta - Norway Jaroslaw Kozlowski - Poland Anna Myca - Poland Euroartisti Bucharest - Romania Joze Barsi - Slovenia William Kentridge - South Africa Carles Santos - Spain Ulf Rollof - Sweden Markus Raetz - Switzerland Montien Boonma - Thailand Füsun Onur - Turkey Kemal Önsoy - Turkey Selim Birsel - Turkey Fatma Binnaz Akman - Turkey Hakan Akçura - Turkey Hüseyin B. Alptekin ve Michael D. Morris - Turkey Hale Tenger - Turkey Handan Börüteçene - Turkey Arzu Çakır - Turkey Cengiz Çekil - Turkey Esra Ersen - Turkey Ayşe Erkmen - Turkey Aydan Murtezoğlu - Turkey Murat Işık - Turkey Gülsün Karamustafa - Turkey Mat Collishaw - United Kingdom Ceal Floyer - United Kingdom Joy Gregory - United Kingdom Zaha Hadid - United Kingdom Mona Hatoum - United Kingdom Richard Wentworth - United Kingdom Abigail Lane - United Kingdom Rachel Whiteread - United Kingdom Shirazeh Houshiary - United Kingdom Anish Kapoor - United Kingdom Barbara Bloom - USA Serge Spitzer - USA Lawrence Weiner - USA Bruce Nauman - USA Shirin Neshat - USA Tony Oursler - USA Fariba Hajamadi - USA Ilya Kabakov - USA Alfredo Jaar - USA Komar & Melamid - USA
only in german
4th International Istanbul Biennial 1995
International Exhibition of Contemporary Art
ORIENT/ATION - The Vision of Art in a Paradoxical World
Kurator: René Block
Künstler: Handan Borutecene, Mikala Dwyer, Reza Farkhondeh, Rosemary Laing, Maria Lassnig, Jusuf Hadzifejzovic, Sanjin Jukic, Nusret Pasic, Fernanda Gomes, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Nedko Solakov, Osvaldo Yero Montero, Per Kirkeby, Kirsten Ortwed, Jyrki Siukonen, Maaria Wirkkala, Ghada Amer, Gilles Barbier, Sophie Calle, Sarkis , Ben Vautier, Raymond Hains, EL Loko, Olaf Metzel, Hermann Pitz, Sigmar Polke, Qin Yufen, Karin Sander, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Rosemarie Trockel, Iskender Yediler, Adem Yilmaz, Maria Eichhorn, Rolf Julius, Svetlana & Igor Kopystiansky, Rebecca Horn, Marina Abramovic, Balazs Beöthy, Finnbogi Petursson, Zvi Goldstein, Micha Ullman, Jannis Kounellis, Maurizio Nannucci, Noritoshi Hirakawa, Tatsuo Miyajima, Nam June Paik, Snieguole Michelkeviciute, Zaneta Vangeli, Diego Medina, Jaroslaw Kozlowski, Anna Myca, William Kentridge, Markus Raetz, Selim Birsel, Hakan Akcura, Hüseyin Alptekin, Hale Tenger, Cengiz Cekil, Esra Ersen, Ayse Erkmen, Aydan Murtezoglu, Murat Isik, Gülsün Karamustafa, Mat Collishaw, Ceal Floyer, Zaha Hadid, Mona Hatoum, Richard Wentworth, Abigail Lane, Rachel Whiteread, Anish Kapoor, Barbara Bloom, Serge Spitzer, Lawrence Weiner, Bruce Nauman, Shirin Neshat, Tony Oursler, Fariba Hajamadi, Ilya Kabakov, Alfredo Jaar, Komar & Melamid ...