At a press meeting in January 2013, curator Fulya Erdemci explained the title and the conceptual framework of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. "Mom, am I barbarian?" is a quote from the Turkish poet Lale Müldür's book of the same title.
Fulya Erdemci announced that, as an exhibition in a dialogue with the city, the 13th Istanbul Biennial’s focal point would be the notion of the public domain as a political forum. This highly contested concept will serve as a matrix to generate ideas and develop practices that question contemporary forms of democracy, challenge current models of spatioeconomic politics, problematise given concepts of civilization and barbarity, and most importantly, highlight the role of art in this context.
Questioning what the reintroduction of the concept of "barbarian" as a reflection of "absolute other" reveals in our contemporary society, Erdemci referred to art’s potential for engendering new positions and constructing new subjectivities for the sake of creating a space for the weakest ones and the most excluded by destabilising dominant and deep-seated discourses.
Erdemci further explained that the Istanbul Biennial aimed to highlight the potential of the discourse of public domain through an examination of spatial justice, art in the public domain and art-market relations. Aspiring to open new avenues for thought and imagination, the Istanbul Biennial will activate social engagement and public fora to generate a possibility for rethinking the concept of "publicness".
The 13th Istanbul Biennial will use public buildings which are left temporarily vacant by urban transformation as exhibition venues. These may include public buildings such as courthouses, schools, military structures or post offices, former transportation hubs like train stations, ex-industrial sites such as warehouses, dockyards as well as the very contested Taksim Square and Gezi Park. Furthermore, the hallmarks of current urbanism such as shopping malls, hotels and office-residential towers are being considered as sites for artistic interventions.
14 September - 20 October 2013
Mom, am I barbarian?
Curator: Fulya Erdemci
Participants: 88 artists and collectives
Public programme, co-curated by
Fulya Erdemci and Andrea Phillips
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts