The 13th Istanbul Biennial exhibitions can be visited free of charge between 14 September and 20 October at
Antrepo no.3 in Tophane
Galata Greek Primary School in Karaköy
ARTER and SALT Beyoğlu on İstiklal Street
5533 in İMÇ 5th Block
Fulya Erdemci’s statement
For the 13th İstanbul Biennial, we had focused on the most contested urban public spaces in Istanbul such as Gezi Park, Taksim Square, Tarlabaşı Boulevard, Karaköy and Sulukule neighbourhood that were not threatened with the risk of further gentrification through the presence of the biennial. Before the Gezi protests, we had planned to carry out a number of projects that would intervene in urban public spaces. However, when we questioned what it meant to realize art projects with the permissions of the same authorities that do not allow the free expression of its citizens, we understood that the context was going through a radical shift that would sideline the reason d’etre of realising these projects. Accomplishing these projects that articulate the question of public domain in urban public spaces under these circumstances might contradict their essence and purpose; we are thus convinced that ‘not realizing’ them is a more meaningful statement than having them materialize under such conditions. Therefore, we decided to move away from the urban public spaces.
When I was structuring the exhibition before Gezi resistance, I never intended to commission or include the spontaneous protest interventions and performances that happen on the streets, as I believe that they shouldn’t be domesticated or tamed in the institutional frames to which they are reacting. However, I was thinking that it was possible to highlight them if they were there already. So, I believe that by withdrawing from urban public spaces, thus marking the presence through the absence, we can contribute to the space of freedom, to the creative and participatory demonstrations and forums, instigated by the Gezi resistance.
Our moving away from urban public spaces led to a serious challenge regarding venues, but we were able to overcome this in a short time through establishing collaborations with art institutions such as ARTER and SALT Beyoğlu, and an independent artist initiative, 5533. Furthermore, from the outset, our aspiration was to open this edition of the biennial to everyone. With the decision to withdraw from urban public spaces following Gezi events, we have managed to make this edition of the biennial free of charge with the hope of creating apublicness, which is in line with the conceptual framework of the biennial.