Re-productions of the city and urban public space: Istanbul through Biennal venues

Biennials have been proliferated all over the world starting with 1990s. One could say that biennials nowadays, create an artistic, informative and critical platform, for ideas, expressions and experiences within social life. On the other hand, an on-going debate focuses on the marketing strategies of biennials, which transform them into a mediator for promotion of cities, naturally from a neo-liberal global policy point. This aspect, far beyond creating a finer image for biennial cities, is generally agreed to be a sign, seeking to constitute the city as a liberal, cultural and democratic place, good enough to be seen and invested. So far, the rise of city-oriented cultural tourism enabled authorities to employ cultural heritage and Art, particularly biennials, in order to attract tourists and thereby introduce a brand new city image to the world.

Biennials that entitled after the cities are usually created as city-based events organised by autonomous institutions. They usually have a mission of diffusing into the city with various activities; however largely end up positioning themselves only at the centre. What separates the biennial from classical museum exhibits, “white cube”, or public art projects is a key question: That is not only about the lack of sale; but the biennial is an event expected to be made for the city, expanded into it locally and communicate with it. Hence, venues, urban tools and channels that biennial employ are of great importance. Venues and their organisation enable the biennial to re-present, re-produce and re-position the city, public space and individuals, differently at every issue. Unlike many, Istanbul Biennial does not have a permanent venue and frequently overflows to public space. This fact could also have a voice in titles and themes. For instance, 9th Istanbul Biennial was exploring transformations of the city caused by post-modernist era and was trying to bring the Biennial into the centre of everyday life. The title of the Biennial was “Istanbul”, locations were new, and public space was amply used. However the Biennial was only signing the city just to be perceived through what it was presenting. This working paper aims to discuss how the city and urban public space of Istanbul are re-presented and re-produced through Istanbul Biennials, and what kind of involvement has the Biennial established in past 12 issues with public sphere and inhabitants through venues.

Keywords: Biennial, City, Public Space, Venue.

     

BIO | Ceren Özpinar works as Teaching Assistant at Istanbul Bilgi University Cultural Management Department. She is graduated from Liceo Italiano-Istanbul; received her BA in Art Management from Yıldız University, MA from Marmara University. She currently works on her PhD thesis at Istanbul Technical University Art History Department. Ozpinar is one of the writers of the book “Turkish Cultural Policy Report-A Civil Perspective”, published in 2011. She has presented papers in many symposia, published in refereed academic and A-type journals.

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