11th International Istanbul Biennale for social change
The 11th International Istanbul Biennale is more political and radical than any other in the last 10 years. No more pointless hedonism is shown here rather than the approach to a a social change. Following Brechtian principles, ‘Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?’, translated into English as ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive?’, the Croatian curators of What, How & For Whom (WHW) is aiming to rethink our position again and again, to see the world as amateur actors, without dulling our critical faculties or our potential for intervention and change by learning the rules all too well.
In the work of Turkish artist Canan Şenol‘s occupies a feminist position, addressing the corrective and normalising role of social institutions and the different religious, political and patriarchal foundations that structure everyday life. The devastatingly beautiful daughter of a poor family in the southeastern part of Turkey is the main character in the animated video work Exemplary (2009). The storyline echoes ancient folk tales, and the narrative style is akin to One Thousand and One Nights, but addresses the contemporary context of women in Turkish society, imbued with tensions that oscillate between secular values and the emergent sensitivities of moral conservatives and institutionalised religion.
Antrepo No.3 (Karaköy)
The installation Qalandia 2087 (2009) is the third in a series of future projections of Qalandia military checkpoint and refugee camp created by Palastinian artist Wafa Hourani where there is no longer a checkpoint or the wall. With its minute details of daily life in the city that has in the meantime grown beyond the refugee camp, the work shows the ways in which the camp and the checkpoint become integrated into people’s perceptions as something to be loathed, but at the same time improved. Nevertheless, in projecting itself into the future without the occupation, it creates a new imaginary that goes beyond perpetuating the grim reality of today.
Antrepo No.3 (Karaköy)
The extraordinary work of Iranian artist Jinoos Taghizadeh travels through a variety of media including painting, collage, video and performance and deals with the problematic construction of collective identities in contemporary Iran. Her recent works look at the thirtieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution and its constant echoes in contemporary Iranian society. The video Good Night (2009) is an almost static shot of a room with the green, white and red colours of the Iranian flag. There is a crib, and beautiful singing rocks a baby to sleep. However, the lullabies are songs with a strong political content -revolutionary anthems from 1979. In the meantime, the songs’ call for social justice and equality as the fuel for revolution has become problematic for the ruling class, and many of them have since been forbidden.
Tobacco Warehouse (Tophane)
The 11th International Istanbul Biennale can still be seen until the 8th November 2009.