The Istanbul Biennial (IB) editions, as cultural events for the wider region and the Middle East, are examined in this article with regard to their relevance for art and artists and their interactions with their host city. Biennials of contemporary art, as main exhibition events of the present, and the urban transformations of Istanbul form the context of the research. Biennials, including the IB, often address controversial topics. Accordingly, the discrepancy between the critical stance of curators and artists, as well as the uses that a Biennial is subjected to by various interest groups, has to be taken under scrutiny.
L’urbanisme et la Civilisation selon Ebüzziya Tevfik (1849–1913)
This article examines an eminent Ottoman journalist's writings on urbanism. Ebüzziya Tevfik, a polyvalent intellectual of the late Ottoman Empire, was a pioneer in the field of printing and was also known as a prolific writer. In the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, he penned some 26 articles on urbanism. This corpus reflects Ebüzziya Tevfik's perception of urbanism as a question of civilisation.
Jens Kreinath and Refika Sariönder
in both its constitutive parts and overall design, ranging from the modes of performance and participation to the intended audiences. As a response to different audiences in the environs of cities like Istanbul, there have been some collective
Transnational Mobilities of Moroccan Middle-class Professionals in Istanbul
This article explores the ways Moroccan middle-class professionals residing in Istanbul have forged transnational connections since the 2006 free trade agreement between Turkey and Morocco. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the article finds that research participants embrace three interdependent mobilities – imaginative, corporeal and virtual. First, Moroccan television viewers imaginatively internalise images of Turkish society through Turkish programmes broadcast in Morocco. Then, Moroccan nationals engage in physical travel to Turkey, initially as tourists, but later also as job seekers. Finally, Moroccan residents of Istanbul travel virtually to keep in touch with friends and family through media such as online platforms and instant messaging applications. In this article I argue that users of virtual environments have developed into new transnational brokers, facilitating the spatial extension of border-crossing networks.
Animal Representations and Urban (Dis)orders during the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ in Istanbul and Khartoum
Alice Franck, Jean Gardin and Olivier Givre
Based on comparative fieldwork studies of the Muslim ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, this article questions the places, shapes and stakes of ritual animal death in the urban space. The examples of Istanbul (Turkey) and Khartoum (Sudan) illustrate different but comparable perceptions, practices and management of a ritual event simultaneously associated with religious traditions and confronted with deep transformations in urbanised and globalised societies. Between ritual normalcy and controversial practice, sacrifice in the city is not reducible to a religious matter but addresses at once spatial, social and cultural issues, informed by economic and political stakes. Through a ritual performance and its manifold aspects, the article explores the multiple and evolving representations of the place and role of animals (and their death) in an urban context.
Shifting Sensitivities in Two Neighbourhood Spaces of Istanbul
The neighbourhood-based battles over norms and values in the ethnically diverse as well as sexual and gendered urban landscapes of the Istanbul neighbourhood (mahalle) spaces of Tophane and Kurtuluş reflect the complexity of the current political transformations that have been shaping Turkey as a whole and Istanbul in particular before and after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The analysis of the mahalle as the state’s margin reflects on how public moral talk, including the notion of ‘sensitivity’ (hassasiyet), reverberates in the making of public morality in both neighbourhood spaces. This article specifically focuses on the role of rumours in mediating ideas on behaviour deemed as in/appropriate in the mahalle as ‘moral territory’ and the mundane practices of self-appointed old and new ‘guards’ of the mahalle.
The Case of the Bostan of Kuzguncuk, Istanbul
The neighborhood of Kuzguncuk in Istanbul has been the theater of a 20-year struggle between the authorities and the local population concerning a green area present in the center of the district. This struggle was interesting as it concerned visions of green areas and more globally of society. The inhabitants wanted to have an open green and social area, whereas the centralized authority wanted to use this land for a profitable building project, without any consultation of the neighborhood. In 2015, a park was inaugurated on this land, the result of a compromise between political authorities and inhabitants of Kuzguncuk. Because of this compromise, this is a unique case, and it will be interesting to understand how different visions of green areas and societal values brought about a project such as that of Kuzguncuk.
Constitutive Acts of the Subject in Gezi Park, Istanbul
Christopher Houston and Banu Senay
Drawing on Caroline Humphrey’s analysis of the personal consequences of ‘decision-events’, in this article we interpret the 2013 protests around Gezi Park in Istanbul as an eventful situation that instigated a break with participants’ previous political sentiments, recomposing them as transformed subjects in the process. We argue that an effective political humor prompted the emergence of a new subject, causing certain features of pre-Gezi political subjectivity to recede from active memory. We use a particular case study to illustrate our claim, comparing pre-Gezi Atatürkist anti-government humor with the political humor of Gezi Park. The article concludes by showing that humor, place, and political amnesia changed activists’ interests, moods, and embodied capabilities, reshaping their manner of relating to the city and generating a distinctive subject.
A Media Conference Report
The European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS) held its fifth annual conference “Urban Mediations” from June 24 to 27, 2010 in the European Capital of Culture 2010, Istanbul. A wide variety of scholars and researchers in the field of cinema, film, and media studies, but also archivists or film and media professionals were invited. The broad scope theme of “urban mediations” provided ample opportunity for extensive analysis and discussion of media and urbanity theories by the attendees. In more than 80 panels, with four talks each, various questions could be discussed. For example: How are city spaces represented and created in different media? What urban practices and aesthetics develop when using “media”? To what extent do new media forms influence future urban developments or make them possible in the first place? How does media shape city-human interaction?
The São Paulo Biennial, the Biennale of Sydney, and the Istanbul Biennial
This article explores the continuing evolution of biennials, particularly those outside the traditional European/North American “centers”. From their early beginnings in Venice in 1895, biennials have become one of the most vital and visible sites for the production, distribution, and discussion of contemporary art. A “third wave” of biennials in the 1980s was part of a growing focus on a global “south”, and played a key role in redefining notions of center and periphery in the global contemporary art world. This article shows how the São Paulo, Sydney, and Istanbul biennials were part of these trends toward the “biennialization” of contemporary art, mass spectatorship, the interweaving of the global and the local, and the rise of a generation of nomadic curators and artists whose work exemplified these themes. It argues that the most recent editions of these biennials may reflect a further shift in the evolution of the biennial model: a possible fourth wave, where the biennial provides an international platform for local politics.