Works by 40 internationally celebrated artists are to be included in the 5th edition of The International Çanakkale Biennial, running from 24 September to 6 November 2016.
The new and previously exhibited artworks on display will explore the theme of “Homeland” (Anavatan, Heimat, الوطن, الأم, Patria), chosen by a curatorial team of Beral Madra, Deniz Erbaş and Seyhan Boztepe. The Turkish city of Çanakkale is located on the Dardanelles Strait, just north of the epicentre of the European refugee crisis in the Aegean Sea, and the curators have chosen to focus on a crucial concept behind the constant succession of global migrations and flows of refugees and exiles: the imagery and visions of the idea of homeland, which are bound to 20th-century nationalism and its after-effects.
Discussing the theme of this year’s Biennial, curator Beral Madra said: “The 5th International Çanakkale Biennial will be a perfect opportunity for us to face and challenge global human movement with the universal language of contemporary art and thus have a civil commitment and positioning towards the ongoing tragedy. The Biennial will try to raise questions about the sustainability of ideas of national and ethnic identity in a world whose borders are becoming increasingly accidental and penetrable. In inviting artists, curators and institutions to observe, examine and interpret these themes, thesis and discourses, the Çanakkale Biennial may present a discourse which will advocate that even if the migrants/refugees are changed by the society they migrate to, human history has revealed that they also challenge and transfuse the host society with a new creativity and vision.”
Several of the invited artists have made direct approaches to the current crisis through their practice. They include Akam Shex Hadi (Iraq), whose work has dealt with ISIS and the fate of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people, Ezgi Kılınçaslan (Turkey), who discusses prejudice towards migrants and women, Ghazel (Iran) whose performance and film project HOME (Stories) (2008) was the culmination of a workshop with asylum seekers and illegal migrants in Venice, and Kalliopi Lemos (Greece), who between 2006 and 2009 presented a series of public art installations on the theme of illegal migration.
Many of the other invited artists explore related themes of nationality, identity and marginalization in their art, with some working in disciplines including graphic and industrial design, photojournalism, and documentary film-making, as well as contemporary art. They are: JR (France-USA), Peter Aerschmann (Switzerland), Cengiz Aktar (Turkey), Nevin Aladağ (Turkey-Germany), Halil Altındere (Turkey), Maher Abdel Aziz (Syria), Canan Beykal (Turkey), Sabine Küper-Büsch & Thomas Büsch (Germany-Turkey), Aissa Deebi (Palestine), Cem Demir (Turkey), Bikem Ekberzade (Turkey), Ahmet Elhan (Turkey), Tuğba Elmacı (Turkey), Mehmet Erim (Turkey), Çınar Eslek (Turkey), Anur Hadžıomerspahıć (Bosnia), Roza El Hassan (Hungary), Pravdoliub Ivanov (Bulgaria), Alfredo Jaar (Chile), Haider Jabbar (Iraq), Reysi Kamhi (Turkey), Norayr Kasper (Canada), Bouchra Khalili (Morocco-France), David Larsson (Sweden), Kalliopi Lemos (Greece), Angela Melitopoulos (Germany), Ali Miharbi (Turkey), Boris Mikhailov (Ukraine-Germany), Eleni Mylonas (Greece), Birgit Johnsen & Hanne Nielsen (Denmark), Adrian Paci (Albania), Sermin Sherif (Turkey), Vahit Tuna (Turkey), Josephine Turalba (Philippines), and Esin Turan (Austria-Turkey).
Artworks will be exhibited at venues throughout the centre of Çanakkale. The main venue will be the Piri Reis Museum, with MAHAL Art Centre, the Old Armenian Church, Mekor Hayim Synagogue, the Korfmann Library, Çanakkale Archaeology Museum, Çanakkale Ceramic Museum, the House of Ece Ayhan, ÇTSO Çanakkale House and the Çanakkale State Fine Arts Gallery also hosting exhibitions.
Founded by a civil initiative (CABININ) in 2006 and supported mainly by the Municipality of Çanakkale, at a point of intersection between Mediterranean, European and Middle Eastern cultures, the International Çanakkale Biennial has previously explored themes strongly connected to the geopolitical and historical context of the city. In 2014, the conceptual framework of the 4th edition of the Biennial built upon the Centenary commemorations for WWI; in 2012, it touched upon recent waves of uprising in Turkey and the region with the theme ‘Fictions and Dissentions’.