Archive for the art Category

To be or not to be: that’s the question of Liu Bolin

Posted in art, photography with tags , , , , on December 15, 2010 by artodisiac

36-year-old Liu Bolin, from Shandong, China is a talented invisible man creating more than just startling images with his works. His images make a statement about his place in society. He sees himself as an outsider whose artistic efforts are not always valued, especially in his native country. Standing silently in front of his chosen scene, in locations all around the world, he uses himself as a blank canvas. Then, with a little help from an assistant, he paints his body to merge as seamlessly as possible with what is behind him. His work requires a lot of patience with him having to pose and work on his photographs for more than ten hours at a time to get it just right. Meanwhile, people walking by while he is carrying out his performances often have no idea he is nearby until he begins to move.

Bolin claims that he wants to show how city surroundings affected people living in them. The inspiration behind his work offers a sense of not fitting in to modern society and seems as a silent protest against the persecution of artists.

In one of his interviews, he says:

‘Some people call me the invisible man, but for me it’s what is not seen in a picture which is really what tells the story. After graduating from school I couldn’t find suitable work and I felt there was no place for me in society. I experienced the dark side of society, without social relations, and had a feeling that no one cared about me, I felt myself unnecessary in this world. From that time, my attitude turned from dependence into revolting against the system.’

When the Chinese authorities shut down his art studio in Beijing in 2005, he was further pushed on with his work. He said:

‘At that time, contemporary art was in quick development in Beijing, but the government decided it did not want artists like us to gather and live together. Also many exhibitions were forced to close. The situation for artists in China is very difficult and the forced removal of the artist’s studio is in fact my direct inspiration of this series of photoshop-free photographs, Hiding In The City.’

 

Liu Bolin’s works are reminders of the existing ‘invisible’ problems trying to question the community we live in and make us become aware of the hidden problems that are covered on purpose and tried to be kept invisible by most of the governments in our modern world..

Doubt is better than certainty

Posted in art, design, Milton Glaser on November 17, 2010 by artodisiac

“Certainty is a closing of the mind. To create the new, requires doubt.” writes Milton Glaser in one of his essays, Ten Things I Have Learned written in 2001 as a part of AIGA Talk in London. Being one of the most influential and celebrated graphic designers in the United States, Glaser is still in doubt and at 81, he is still creating significant design at full capacity. I would like to quote a part of his essay below and strongly recommend you to read the full version from here.

Doubt is Better Than Certainty

by Milton Glaser

Everyone always talks about confidence in believing what you do. I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous when someone believes too deeply or too much. I think that being sceptical and questioning all deeply held beliefs is essential. Of course we must know the difference between scepticism and cynicism because cynicism is as much a restriction of one’s openness to the world as passionate belief is. They are sort of twins. And then in a very real way, solving any problem is more important than being right. There is a significant sense of self-righteousness in both the art and design world. Perhaps it begins at school. Art school often begins with the Ayn Rand model of the single personality resisting the ideas of the surrounding culture. The theory of the avant garde is that as an individual you can transform the world, which is true up to a point. One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.
Schools encourage the idea of not compromising and defending your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usually all about the nature of compromise. You just have to know what to compromise. Blind pursuit of your own ends which excludes the possibility that others may be right does not allow for the fact that in design we are always dealing with a triad – the client, the audience and you.

Ideally, making everyone win through acts of accommodation is desirable. But self-righteousness is often the enemy. Self-righteousness and narcissism generally come out of some sort of childhood trauma, which we do not have to go into. It is a consistently difficult thing in human affairs. Some years ago I read a most remarkable thing about love, that also applies to the nature of co-existing with others. It was a quotation from Iris Murdoch in her obituary. It read ‘ Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.’ Isn’t that fantastic! The best insight on the subject of love that one can imagine…

Welcome to the desert of the real…

Posted in art, philosopy with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2010 by artodisiac

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth;

it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.

Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard is one of the most influential and important figures for postmodern theorists and artists. In our current postmodern condition, Baudrillard argues that we have lost contact with the “real” in various ways, that we have nothing left but a continuing fascination with its disappearance. In Baudrillard’s version of postmodernity, there is hardly any space for opposition or resistance because of the supreme hegemony of the controlling system. The uncomfortable truth! When I was reading the ‘Simulacra and Simulations’ -quite a tough and thoughtful article that I need to reread several times to digest-, I realized how my own reality has been abstracted, even abolished with the hyperreality of communication and meaning. More real than real (Douglas Kellner), that is how the real is abolished…

Baudrillard’s concepts, simulacra and simulation, explains how our models for the real have taken over the place of the real in postmodern society. What has happened in postmodern culture is that our society has become so reliant on models and maps that we have lost all contact with the real world that preceded the map. Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world: ‘The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory—precession of simulacra—that engenders the territory’. According to Baudrillard, when it comes to postmodern simulation and simulacra: ‘It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real’.

Baudrillard is not merely suggesting that postmodern culture is artificial, because the concept of artificiality still requires some sense of reality against which to recognize the artifice. His point, rather, is that we have lost all ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice. To clarify his point, he argues that there are three “orders of simulacra”: 1) in the first order of simulacra, which he associates with the pre-modern period, the image is a clear counterfeit of the real; the image is recognized as just an illusion, a place marker for the real; 2) in the second order of simulacra, which Baudrillard associates with the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down because of mass production and the proliferation of copies. Such production misrepresents and masks an underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it (e.g. in photography or ideology); however, there is still a belief that, through critique or effective political action, one can still access the hidden fact of the real; 3) in the third order of simulacra, which is associated with the postmodern age, we are confronted with a precession of simulacra; that is, the representation precedes and determines the real. There is no longer any distinction between reality and its representation; there is only the simulacrum.
(http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/postmodernism/modules/baudlldsimultnmainframe.html)

Here is a video on the philosophy lying behind the Matrix movie by Wachowski brothers, a movie that was inspired by all these issues (although numerous sources report Baudrillard saying that the movie ‘stemmed mostly from misunderstandings’ of his work).

I just added the part about Baudrillard, but highly recommend you to watch the whole series..

Lost in Hildurness

Posted in art, music, musical instruments with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2010 by artodisiac

I have been Lost in Hildurness (her album) since I had watched Hildur Gudnadottir in Konzerthaus Dortmund during ISEA 2010. She was playing her new halldorophone, an electro-acoustic string instrument in development by Halldór Úlfarsson. The instrument is loosely based on a cello allowing the player to color the sound of what is being played by feeding the vibrations of each string back into the body of the instrument: http://www.halldorulfarsson.info/halldorophone5

Old days revisited…

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by artodisiac

Here is another article I had written in 1999 on 6th International Istanbul Biennial for a contemporary art class I took from Gulsun Karamustafa when I was a senior in Bosphorus University. We were supposed to visit the Biennial and choose 5 artists and write about their works. When I read it now, it seems quite a pathetic article with a poor command of English but considering that it was a ‘first’ for an economics student that time, and it was highly graded, I guess it was ok.

It seems that this article was aimed to be an early introduction for our curatorial choices as well. To choose five artists among 56, one needs to find a link, a binding concept between them. I remember putting ‘content’ above the ‘technique’ while choosing the artists and getting an A for the consistent selection of the works. My choices were Elina Bruderus who showed photographs of herself shortly after a divorce; Pedro Alvarez, a Cuban artist who dealt with discrimination between rich white and poor black citizens; Oliver Musovik, a Macedonian artist, who exhibited a project concerned with the continual and persistent interest in the ordinary personal lives and destinies of people in his neighborhood; and Kara Walker who used black and white wall sillouettes to explore some historical implications of slavery.

I also recall our everlasting discussions with Ms Karamustafa on high and low art in our lectures. In that sense, nothing much seems to be changed within a decade, since we still make the same discussions in lectures these days. What seems to be changed is the technology used to create the artworks that still have relatively similar contents (since every question has been asked and every subject has been visited). Hence the variety of techniques used to stimulate emotions have passed far beyond the imaginable.  Therefore, after a decade, if we are given a similar task, will I be choosing the same type of works where ‘content makes more sense than shape’ is a question mark. I still value content much more than the shape, however in a world of derivative works of art (contentwise), creative use of technology gains more importance and keeps the art scene alive..

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THE PASSION AND THE WAVE

by Ebru Surek, 1999

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has been organizing art events since 1973. The last ‘Istanbul Biennial’ of the milllenium gathered 56 artists from 32 different countries. The selection was made by the curator Paolo Colombo because of the artists’ common features. After visiting the biennial, one can easily understand the curator’s view. All the artists in the biennial were reflecting the plurality of art and producing abovenations, emotional and independent masterpieces. Because in the world of 90’s globalization gains importance day by day. In this world, as Colombo suggests, a motive is extending in which the views and thoughts of people are becoming personal and more subjective. In the tangency point of the history and the geography, the curator wanted to catch this motive.
The name of the biennial is chosen as ‘The Passion and the Wave’, referring to Antonis Diamantidhis, one of the great voices of Istanbul and Athens. He sang under the stage name ‘Dalgas’ which means ‘wave’ in Turkish and ‘passion’ in Greek. The title of the biennial is an homage to this city, through the name of one of its greatest voices. Diamantidhis symbolizes an approach to the nonelitist,ordinary people of that time. What impresses the curator was his personal and poetic expression rather than the great, theoretic masterpieces. The artists that the curator invited also reflected that point of view. He invited all types of artwork: from painting to collage, photography to video works… The important thing was to express a feeling with the help of the surrounding. Content made more sense than shape.

The exhibition places were Dolmabahçe Cultural Center, Hagia Eireni Museum and Yerebatan Cistern. He chose these places because they born from underground of the city and reach to the sea. The artists(from the most subjective to the most expressionist), told us personal stories, they examined modernism and created an ‘Istanbul’ that we did not see before.

In this paper we are going to examine the works of five artists; Michael Raedecker, Elina Brotherus, Pedro Alvarez, Kara Walker and Oliver Musovik; and try to relate them to the curator’s purpose.

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MICHAEL RAEDECKER :

‘Lots of details can be given but it is still possible to make the painting ‘empty’ says M. Raedecker, a famous Dutch artist. All he wants is to create anonymous images that everyone can add his own story. He used different art cathegories in his works. He combined craft and painting. In ‘Hallow Hill’ he gives an impression that you are in a well and seeing the world upside down. In ‘The Outskirts’ this time you got the impression of looking down the world from the sky. There are clouds and trees that were cut. In ‘Cue’ you are looking to the nature behind a theater curtain. The tree is made of wool. When looking to his works, you get a feeling that everything may be different than it looks. You go through different emotions. M. Raedecker paints approximate scenes which might have been seen, though never visited, from TV or a magazine. Both impersonal and familiar. He also crossed the borderline between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. The scenes are individual and subjects are trivial but on the other hand it is high art since the materials are valuable and an emphasis on effort is given. The works also can not be copied.

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ELINA BROTHERUS:

She uses photograps as a medium to communicate. She takes her own photos and tries to tell us her own story. She has just broken up with her husband and her sad look touches people in ‘This is the first day of the rest of my life’. She is not an outsider, sometimes she is inside the frame herself, sometimes she frames something else for us. A red umbrella at the fireworks. Some concrete buildings, lights. People turn their backs to the camera. In ‘Landscapes and Escapes 1’ she is away from people and near to the nature. Life is her film. She uses long exposures, living through the moments when patterns of life and light coincide. The pictures are the underlying reason for what they depict. They hold a mirror to the present. She uses images that we can easily read like a visual text.

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PEDRO ALVAREZ:

‘The Story of Cuban Art Has Been Told’ is an ironic name to criticize the modish attention paid to Cuban art all over the world. For Alvarez, there are two distinct channels of appropriation: art history and popular culture. First he has torn out images from the pages of expensive cathologues to provide the collage background for the work, then he has superimposed images taken from 19th Century cigar boxes. He suggests that ‘I am playing a game between ‘High’ and ‘Low’ art. By using Picasso, Bleckner, Monet as a background of the paintings he not only ridicules them as masters of ‘high’ art but also underlines the way their presence legitimizes the Cuban artists’ entry into the contemporary art world. He chose a critical, important subject (discrimination between rich white and poor black) but the title refers only to Cuban art so in a way it is a trivial subject. Copies of boxes can be made but he painted them and made it harder to copy. He uses cathegories of high and low art. He also criticizes the consumerism of art culture by using collage.

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KARA WALKER:

‘Silhoutte’ is a sharp way of summarizing my various interests’ says K.Walker. Silhouette was historically existed as an art related to common and everyday life. Her works tell us about black slaves. She uses cut out of black paper on a white wall. They are criticizing slavery and racism, especially Klu Klax Klan. White people have big sharp teeth. There is a big eagle and it is beating another one, representing USA trying to colonize another country. A black man who escaped from a gallows is walking with his son. Behind them there is a lovely girl looking at them with a mask of Klu Klux Klan in her hand. A white man is running to dig a grave with a shovel in his hand.

She used a universal subject with a lot of work, her works can be cathegorized as high art. On the otherhand valuable materials are not used and her works can be reproduced, which reminds us low art. She expresses her personal views. Being an african american,  she could probably have witnessed some negative events in her life. She used some images to tell us her point like eagle as the US. She is being criticised by most of the Americans, but it can not be denied that her works hold up a mirror to the present.

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OLIVER MUSOVIK:

His projects appear so specific within the context of the Macedonian art scene because he has a continual and persistent interest in the ordinary personal lives and destinies of the people in his neighbourhood. Most of the artists from his generation are still occupied with the formal problems related to matter, shape and color but he has already translated his investigations into ‘real life’. He usually uses ordinary people in his work like the unemployed, students, pensioners etc., who are taking the leading roles for the first time in their lives.
In one of his works named ‘Neighbours’, he took photos of 20 flats of the apartment he is living. These photos are reflecting the lives of people living inside with all of the details. There are also personal stories written under each of them. They are so realistic that in the biennial, some people thought that they were the photos of earthquake and they said they were very pleased to see that a foreign photographer paid attention to that subject.

His works also crossed the borderline between high and low art. The scenes are very individual and the works can be reproducable but the effort is worth mentioning. His purpose is to stimulate emotion. He combined photographs and some writings in his works.

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CONCLUSION:

Almost every art work in the biennial crossed a borderline between high and low art. The purpose was not just art, but to stimulate emotion. What the Biennial wanted to achieve was to feed the belief on intimacy and reality. What we live is not important, it can be earthquake, depression, love, racism or trouble. Whatever it is, the important thing is can it be expressed by any means, by pictures, paintings, crafts or all together.

 

 

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REFERENCES:

  1. 6. ULUSLARARASI İSTANBUL BİENALİ, BİENAL, İstanbul Kültür ve Sanat Vakfı, 1999

  2. GÖSTERİ, Sanat Edebiyat Dergisi, Eylül-Ekim 1999, Sayı 213

  3. 6.Uluslararası İstanbul Bienali, Sönmez Ayşegül, Milliyet Sanat Dergisi, Sayı 464, sayfa 4-11

  4. 6. Uluslararası İstanbul Bienali, Sanat mı değil mi, Korap Elif, Milliyet Sanat Dergisi, Sayı 465, sayfa 26-28

  5. 6. Uluslararası İstanbul Bienali’nin Düşündürdükleri, Sönmez Ayşegül, Milliyet Sanat Dergisi, Sayı 466, sayfa 32-34

  6. Resmi Görüş, Güncel Sanat Seçkisi 1,

 

Good old days…

Posted in art, iconography, semiology with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by artodisiac

While I was looking for a document in my old CDs, I have come across with some papers I had written in December’98, for a fine arts course (FA311) I was taking from Nancy Atakan in Bosphorus University. It has been ages that I had even forgotten their existence. As a term paper to Ms Atakan, I recall using an essay; “Mechanisms of Meaning: Iconography and Semiology” from Donald Preziosi’s The Art of Art History, A Critical Anthology; as a framework to analyze and compare paintings by Velasquez and Goya. Now I remember this paper was the reason of my  interest and admire especially for Goya. I would like to share some of these papers I had written in 90s (first of which will be the term paper for Ms Atakan’s lecture) in order not to loose them once again, and to see if I had some progress in the past 12 years, hope I did:)

Mechanisims of Meaning: Iconography and Semiology in Interpreting Works of Velazquez and Goya

by Ebru Surek

An image is not intended solely for perception and contemplation. It requires and demands a real effort of reading, even interpretation. Iconography attempts essentially to state what the images represent and assumes every image has a hidden and symbolic meaning. In Panofsky’s view, iconography deals solely with images that were meant to signify something different from what they offered to view, without distinguishing between the different types of images. Semiotics on the contrary has an intention on bringing to light the mainsprings of the signifying process, of which the work of art is, at the same time, the locus and the possible outcome. It focuses on the production of meaning.
Examining the social factors that frame the signs is crucial to analyze simultaneously the past and our own interaction with them, an interaction otherwise in danger of passing unnoticed. In this paper, we are going to analyze the works of Velazquez and Goya to understand their intentions in paintings ‘Las Meninas’ and ‘El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos.’

Looking at ‘Las Meninas (The Maids in-waiting), we recognize Velazquez as a master of a brilliant optical realism that seldom has been approached by others. As first painter to the king and as a chief steward of the palace, Velazquez was conscious not only of the importance of his court office but of the honor of dignity belonging to his profession as painter. In this painting he appears to bring the roles together, asserting their equivalent value. A number of pictures from 17th century show painters with their royal patrons. In the painting he wears the red cross of the order on the couple, painted there, legend tells us, by the king himself. The truth is that the artist painted it. In his mind, Las Meninas might have embodied the idea of the great king visiting his artist’s studio. The figures in the painting all acknowledge the royal presence.
The painter represents himself in his studio before a large canvas on which he may be painting this very picture or perhaps the portraits of the king and the queen, whose reflections appear in the mirror on the far wall. The little girl, Margarita, appears in the foreground with her two maids in waiting, her favorite dwarfs and a big dog. In the middle ground there are a nanny and a male escort; in the background a gentleman is framed in a brightly lit open doorway. The painting is constructed to make us look at that person. On the wall above the doorway and mirror, two faintly recognizable pictures represent the immortal gods as the source of art. Our first impression of Las Meninas is of an informal family group casually arranged and miraculously lifelike. One could think of it as a genre painting rather than as a group portrait.
Placed among the royal family in equal dignity, Velazquez is face to face with his sovereign. The art of painting, in the person of the painter, is elevated to the highest status. He sought ennoblement not for himself but for his art. Although he intends an optical report of the event, he also seems to intend a pictorial summary of various kinds of images and degrees of ‘reality’. This work, with its contrasts of mirrored spaces, pictures spaces and pictures within pictures. The painting itself appears to have been using traces from a large mirror reflecting the whole scene, which would mean the artist has not pointed the princess and her suit, but himself in the process of painting them. He achieved this illusion by the help of intermediate values of gray to come between two extremes. He thinks of light and tone as the whole substance of painting.
Francisco de Goya also became a portrait painter to the Spanish aristocracy. After a serious illness in 1792 left him permanently deaf and isolated from others, he increasingly occupied with the fantasies and inventions of his imagination and with critical and satirical observations of mankind.
‘El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos’ is one of them. A Spanish writer called F. de Quevedo y Villegas inspired him. The main notion of the painting was that the difference between man and monster is a very thin line and too close to each other that they can be mixed sometimes very easily. In the first sketch of the painting, the artist is sleeping in his drawing table surrounded by a face of donkey as a symbol of illiteracy and ignorance, a dog’s face with its tongue out of its mouth as a symbol of greediness and some bats as symbols of hypocrisy and ignorance. Bats in that time of Spanish literature were symbols of dark people escaping from the light of justice. Near the feet of the sleeping artist lies a lynx with a power of vision in dark very strong eyes symbolizing the smart people in Spain in 18th century with a deep understanding power who can foresee future easily. The lynx will help Goya in the exploration of the dark.
In the original picture, there are the sleeping artist, the lynx, the owls and the bats, one of which is bigger than the others and flying above the artist. The others are flying in the background. In the Middle Ages and the Christian iconography, the bat represents a form of devil and the owl represents a creature of darkness that cannot endure light. In this respect, the owl was symbolizing the people who did not follow the Jesus Christ. In 18th Century they mostly symbolized illiteracy, irrationality, the dark face of the reason, etc.
In the picture the owl is giving a pencil with no ends to the artist. The light is disappearing and giving a way to the dark. The lynx ‘s face is towards the artist but a cat, known as the Prince of Darkness, is looking around from the back of the artist. There are four owls surrounding the cat and three of them are looking directly at the eyes of the people looking at them. The fourth one is insisting on giving a piece of chalk to the artist with the aim of being pictured. But Goya will not take it. These owls are not the sacred birds of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, but the creatures belonging to the bad fortunetellers, trying to see the future with the help of these birds.
Goya named the painting ‘El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos’ and wrote it in the left corner saying, without rationality, imagination produces monsters, if it is completed with rationality, then it is the source of art and its miracles.

 

Lost in laziness…

Posted in art, Uncategorized with tags on September 21, 2010 by artodisiac

It has been quite a time since I have last updated this blog. I can list a number of excuses; time passes so quickly since I am happy, it is too hot to sit with my laptop on my lap and try to articulate something and write them down, I have better things to do on this last holiday before working madly on my thesis, bla bla bla, but candidly I am simply lost in ‘laziness’ after some very active three months. Since June, I reached the apogee in motion both physically and mentally, and totally abruptly of course. From Mardin to New York, San Francisco to Dortmund, lots of unexpected movements, travelling, flying, driving, stressfull calculations with a limited budget and some sudden decisions taken for the sake of my thesis. An exhausting yet amazing experience. Now it is time to face the reality that the holiday is almost over and I have to start studying asap. Thanks god, the gradual transition period is also over and I finally defeated my laziness. I have a lot to tell, so let the blogging begin, starting with Mardin…

“A city is a book…” Victor Hugo

One night in June, while we were working on a curatorial project for a course we were taking, we decided to go to Mardin with a couple of friends. For over a decade, I was dying to go there but never had the chance before. Better later than never. Besides, the first Biennial in Mardin would be opening the time we would be there and this magical city would be surrounded by hundreds of art works from 63 artists. The timing of our visit could not have been better. So we packed up and hit the road.

The title of Mardin Biennial was taken from a magical saying: Abracadabra (the word used to make the magic go on its way) as written on the biennial webpage (http://www.mardinbienali.org/bienal/bienaleng.asp) :

‘For the biennial there is a slight play on the word: Abbaracadabra. Abbara, found in Mardin only, is the name for the architectural feature that allows for passage to both the home and the street. Abbara structures were conceived before modernity and are representational both as an idea and a word that leans on modernity. Therefore every abbara is a significant sociological, philosophic and architecture point. Thus the project title draws attention to how the city disregarded the separation of public and private space. Emphasizing on this dialectic enables us to better comprehend the present day.

Having been a home, dwelling for tens of civilizations over the course of history, and bringing with it several symbols and signs to this extent – Mardin – and to further see this city in the process of modernity is a dynamic view. The city allows for the examination of creating as a means of action and reaction against history in order to cultivate a present.

At the same time, the relationship between the several faiths found in the region and the life style they advocate amongst their followers, coupled with modern life, is a dichotomy. The works displayed at the exhibitions, enables Mardin to see itself both with its history and its current state – providing a new perspective with which to view the familiar symbols of both past and present. This perspective takes on: public and private, personal and societal, past and future. In the age of globalization, in an age where all cities are becoming alike, Mardin’s ability to remain and protect its uniqueness – with its unknown riches and a simple word play is being placed not only on the international world arena but also on a national scale.

The biennial theme and easy to say name Mardin, will remain in the international art scene consciousness and as it happened with the Istanbul biennial, will quickly be discovered and become known and valued.’

The Biennial was well organized and definitely drew some serious attention to the area. Most of the locals we talked were really happy with the event, not because they were dying to see some pieces of ‘contemporary’ art but because the city was full of tourists. Some told that they didn’t try to interpret the artists but liked the works, some told that they didn’t watch the performances because they were embrassing to watch. Actually, I personally think that some of the works were really remote to the locals when their culture and beliefs are considered. I think it seems like a little handicap for the event since the main intent of the organization was said to be taking the attention of locals who probably have no clue about what a biennial is. Another thing I found a bit cynical is that most of the works were not genuine, some had been preexhibited reflecting the level of importance given to the event by some of the artists. As mentioned in the conceptual framework of the event, in an age where all cities are becoming alike, Mardin’s ability to remain and protect its uniqueness is very important. So as the uniqueness of the Mardin Biennial.

Needless to say, these are very minor (and totally personal of course) concerns when the candid efforts for such an event are taken into account. “Mardin has been limited by its association with war and violence,” Done Otyam, the curator of the biennial, said a few days after the event’s opening. “We wanted to change that, to let people know about Mardin through art.” And that is what happened.

(to be continued..)