press release

1. INTRODUCTION The 5th International İstanbul Biennial is the result of a desire to set up a fruitful and critical dialogue between contemporary artists and audiences from different parts of the world. Furthermore, it fulfills the purpose of establishing new links and collaborative networks between cultural institutions, creators, curators, critics and other art professionals. The İstanbul Biennial aims to open up new modes of expression and an understanding of contemporary art through an exchange of ideas and experiences. By bringing together artists from different cultures, the İstanbul Biennial will focus on an interpretation of the latest trends and points of interest in contemporary art. It engaged us in an intellectual and emotional exercise, aiding our navigation through the complex world of uncertainties, in which we live today. The city of İstanbul is a focus of vital energy set within a complex social context. İstanbul embodies all the contradictions and tensions of a megalopolis, which, at the end of twentieth century, is confronting the political tensions between globalisation and tradition. İstanbul has been thought of as a metaphoric gate between East and West, between Asia and Europe. In this respect, the city's major gateways (airport, train stations and the Bosphorus bridge that connects Asia to Europe, the historic walls and old city gates) was used for specific events staged by the artists. Site-specific work aimed to reveal the urban network in a new way. The city of İstanbul is unique; therefore the Biennial could not be reduced to one exhibition presented at a specific venue. The walks through the city should become part of the exhibition's discourse. Moreover, special emphasis was laid on the connection between the arts and the city in the 5th International İstanbul Biennial. While the Biennial aimed to bring out new ways of perceiving and creating art, it is also intended to explore alternatives in experiencing the city. The 5th International İstanbul Biennial thus became encounter, symposium, workshop - more of an all-embracing experience than just an exhibition.

2. BIENNIAL MODEL İstanbul does not follow the biennial model of national pavillions and curators for selecting artists; nor does it follow the model where the selection of artists is made by the respective national governments, which provide direct financial support. The İstanbul Biennial follows a hybrid system that combines a sole artistic director, responsible for the overall conceptualisation and the selection of the artists, and likewise seeks the financial support of the different governments or foreign institutions. This system necessitates a well-balanced combination of freedom of decision to achieve artistic goals and dependency on the financial support of various participating countries. Criteria for Selecting The Artists The emphasis of the 5th İstanbul Biennial was not be on national representations or generations, and no priority was given to any discipline or artistic medium. The choice of artists reflected the heterogeneity of approaches to visual culture as a means of going beyond the idealistic essentialism that conceives the work of art as a fixed entity. The options was open to art works that question traditional art frontiers and categories conceiving creation and life as a fluxus of changes. The links between artists was based on the intensity of their reflections on contemporary languages, and on the analysis and understanding of our present and the will to transform it.

3. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK "On Life, Beauty, Translations and Other Difficulties" Under the title "On Life, Beauty, Translations and Other Difficulties" the 5th International İstanbul Biennial synthesised the desire to approach and explore some important points of discussion in contemporary aesthetic thought and creation: the borderlines that separate art and life; the search for new meanings of beauty, and the awareness that we need languages to communicate even if translations produce displacements of meaning. Besides its appearance as a totally autonomous entity, and the fact that, as with any other language, it has its own laws, art also acts as a medium to relate human beings to different areas of reality, and may be considered as a translation, a vehicle for reinterpreting and creating new ways of perceiving and transforming the world. The pleasure of beauty, the strength and the intensity of an aesthetic experience in which emotions function as a form of knowledge is needed in those processes of communication in which the 'others' are required to complete the meaning of the art work. Life: An artwork may be seen as a terminal, a point of arrival and departure between life and language, a space where one can play with signs generated by other fields of knowledge and experience (science, technology, mass media, politics, physicality, sexual identity...etc.), a place where it is possible to value and to transform relations with the 'others' by articulating, to different degrees of intensity, the understanding of nature and the multiplicity of cultural differences, so we can move from the 'passive aesthetics of mirrors' to a changing, multi-faceted and active 'aesthetics of prisms', where the gaze is multidirectional and inclusive. Beauty: Without neglecting the need for content, ideology or pathos, art is trying to recover the vertigo and intensity associated with the idea of beauty. Beauty is not timeless and universal, beauty is a subjective experience linked to the rhetoric of appearance, to the linguistic qualities of the signifier and the pleasure that they produce in the beholder. Aesthetic values depend on historical and cultural variations of taste and today, from a holistic perspective, we can move from beauty to content and integrate mind and body, thought and emotion, rhetoric and philosophy, pleasure and knowledge to achieve a new conception of life. Translation: Translation is implied in any form of creation. Creation is a displacement, a movement from one field (life, culture, experience) to another (visual or poetic languages...). Art today embodies a nomadic experience; it is becoming a form of energy related to displacement. The desire to explore the differential spaces, the places of the 'others' and the fluidity and difficulties of translation between different contexts are being reviewed as a means of reinterpreting our position in the contemporary world. Difficulties: To travel between those different spheres (cultural, sexual, linguistic...) is a journey of adventure with various risks and difficulties. The process of exploring and overcoming these difficulties is intrinsic in issues related to translation, life and beauty.

4. VENUES The 5th International İstanbul Biennial staged at one main centre and a number of satellite venues. Located inside the Topkapı Palace gardens, the Imperial Mint -which perfectly embodied the idea of a city within a city- was the main venue. Other spaces, such as the Yerebatan Cistern, the Women's Library and Information Centre and other sites, also host art projects. Together with the public and environmental spaces, they was catalysed the main proposals in the 5th International İstanbul Biennial and, by using the city's main gates, the Biennial was both an exhibition and a promenade.

5. COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITIES The 5th International İstanbul Biennial was enriched with panel discussions, lectures by artists and encounters.


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5. International Istanbul Biennial
Künstlerischer Direktor: Rosa Martinez

mit Simryn Gill, Patrick van Caeckenbergh, Ann Veronica Janssens, Rivane Neuenschwander, Jana Sterbak, Ana Mendieta, Olafur Eliasson, Ann Lislegaard, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Orlan , Carsten Höller, Antal Lakner, Anna Lindal, Maurizio Cattelan, Mariko Mori, Kim Sooja, Egle Rakauskaite, Yael Davids, Moshekwa Langa, Ebru Özsecen, Liza May Post, Helena Almeida, Oleg Kulik, Irwin , Federico Guzman, Antoni Miralda, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Daniele Buetti, Pipilotti Rist, Halil Altindere, Kutlug Ataman, Vahap Avsar, Sükran Aziz, Semiha Berksoy, Sükran Moral, Bülent Sangar, Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger, Sam Taylor-Wood, Janine Antoni, Louise Bourgeois, Diller & Scofidio, Jimmie Durham, Joseph Grigely, Matthew McCaslin, Shirin Neshat, Eve Sussman, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Roberto Obregon ...