Archive for Mardin Biennial

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 ( :

‘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..)