4th INTERNATIONAL MARDÝN BIENNIAL

“Beyond Words” is the headline; and “Infinite Sight”, “Body Language”, and “Boundaries and Thresholds” are its subheadings… These subheadings indicate our distinct yet interrelated approaches as curators of the 4th International Mardin Biennial. Each theme is a mechanism affecting, linking and expanding into each other. The language of art under each subheading is formed with the belief that we all can meet there that lies beyond “words” — where we are all called to meet at the 4th International Mardin Biennial to produce meaning beyond words.

Historical narrations and the act of seeing, the phenomenon of looking that constitute the foundations of cultural/artistic systems, sets out from the conflicting view that although it is limited, the view point of humans cannot be confined to limits. We set out from a point seeking ways for complementing the ‘missing’ with different points of appraisal that could lead to new perspectives. On the other hand, the proposal to engage with various methods of bodily expression aims to open up new channels of creativity where the healing, unifying, and empowering forces of creation can flow. The focus passes from sight to the body so as to go beyond the political, cultural, scientific, and social dynamics, toward where lies a reality that is “one” for everybody. Then space becomes the point where all possible thoughts converge, so much so that, for quite some time now, it confronts them and will continue to do so beyond all physical and mental spaces, of boundaries and thresholds of every individual and social practice.

“Beyond Words” brings together various forms of artistic expression created through the languages of sight, the body and space-making that the artists make visible and raise awareness about. The audience is invited to experience how expression turns into art in places that lie beyond words.

Nazlý Gürlek

4th International Mardin Biennial // “Body Language”

“Body Language” which forms one of the three thematic sub titles of the 4th International Mardin Biennial, suggests the opening of new channels for allowing the flow of healing, unifying and strenthening force of creation in a bid to enter into communication with the various ways of bodily expression. Setting out from the understanding that body language is the most realistic, sincere, and direct form of expression for casting subjective reality, it focuses on the physical, spiritual, symbolic and instinctive aspects of the body, and to that end, brings together performance, video, canvas, sculpture, installation as well as dance, movement and improvisation aimed at awareness of the body.

When everything is taken from us, or when we have to rapidly flee, the only thing we can take with us is our body. The body is a baggage, an archive; it embodies every kind of experience and traces of memory, of traditions, symbols, values and practices passed down through generations. Politics are implemented over bodies; borders, rights and sovereignties are determined. From bodies burned on battlefields, to bodies that are bought and sold, that are forbidden, abused, maltreated, bodies that are lost at sea during immigration. The world spins around on bodies. Science clones bodies; fights for freedom begin and end with bodies. But, beyond all these political, cultural, scientific and social dynamics, there lies the reality of “one” (single) body for everyone: The body is the casing for the soul in this lifetime. The body owns the wisdom of nature, extraordinary energy, the power of healing, the power of creating, of immense resistance, and the capacity of perceiving and communicating with each and every one of inherent senses.

This is from where all the practices in “Body Language” derive their power. What could be in the mind of an artist while ‘releasing’ a series of sculptural objects consisting of different bodies? What prompts a group of youngsters to perform a ritual in the waters of Hasankeyf? Why does an artist chase a symbolic, archaic and subconscious language that controls the “language of the heart”? Why is the tie between women and ‘Mother Nature’ so important? The outcome of experiencing the

entirety of “Body Language”, encompassing these and many more will be as follows: independently of the ‘human-made’ discriminatory and limiting identities of religion, race, nation and ideology, the body language which is the common and pure expression of convergence every individual is born with, could turn into means of creating different worlds. With the inspiration taken from Mardin’s culture and its daily life, “Body Language” suggests that due attention be given to body language.

Lastly, a word on interdisciplinary method and focus on performance. Instead of asking what art is or under which circumstances it can be produced, “Body Language” sets out from the belief that the most humane, radical and transformative approach today is the best way to establish a link between people and the wider social environment. We have a world order focusing on conflicting local-global dynamics, where single-minded opinions have lost their dominance and where diversity has become the norm. Would not, thinking about the function, aim, influence, subject, object, document, memory and archive related to art in this order, pave the way for new relationship possibilities for us? At the end of the day, the diversity of issues of urgency within a social framework, carries with it the concern for developing new, creative channels conforming with this diversity. The methods and means of different disciplines naturally open new channels of creation. The question of how, within the context of the Mardin biennial, this disciplinary approach could allow us to create different fields, lies at the core of our curatorial approach here.

On the other hand, all these questions fall within the realm of artistic practice we define as performance. Artistic approach of different disciplines connected to social realities, that take shape according to space and dwell on political issues of subjectivity, is defined today as performance. It is for this reason that “ Body Language” enables an experience between disciplines (live and video performances, documentation resulting from these performances, canvas, sculpture and installations, dance, movement and workshops that enable awareness of the body).

With “Body Language” we are aiming at enabling an experience, on establishing a link between man and the wider social environment through the language of the body. Hoping to meet with the wisdom of bodies beyond all these words.

Fýrat Arapoðlu

Infinite Sight

“There is something about walking that warns my thoughts and gives them life. When I am in a certain place I have difficulty thinking...” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions)

Contrary to general belief, philosophy, literature, architecture, politics and geography have, for centuries, been inter-mingled. Just as we are reminded by Perry Anderson this can be thought in connection with the thesis that every new intellectual field needs an opposite pole in order to attain productivity. Humanity was in need of changing geographic locations in order to attain knowledge; exactly as Socrates had to exit the city walls of Athens in order to enter into dialogue with Phaedrus, despite the fact that he was against it.

On the other hand, mankind had begun to put to use the relation between cartography and art, thousands of years ago. While landscape painting began flourishing in the 15th century in the Flemish Region and in Northern Italy; and while in fact art, cartography and architecture revealed intelligence and discovery, it was, at the same time pointing to imperialism and capitalism. Landscape and maps should be viewed as the symbol of the new capitalist class in their bid to display intelligence and power. David Le Breton’s words “modernism is the dominance of noise” also contain the criticism alluding to the rather important point that it is at the same time the dominance of instrumentality. How is art along with geography reflecting the current changes in our world? What kind of connection can there be with the ever changing geography of the 21st Century when taken in the context that national borders are becoming less significant –or maybe just the opposite- that they are gaining more importance with each passing day? What could be the reaction to a world where relation between people and space is not easily defined and where, in one way or the other, they are interdependent? These questions were significant starting points.

In a letter to his nephew, Kierkegaard wrote: “I walked myself to my best thoughts and now I know of no distressing thoughts that people can rid themselves of through walking”, and these words became one of the starting points of Infinite Sight. It triggered our wish to accentuate the relation between art and geography within the context of aesthetics and practice of information regarding space. The aim was to discover the definition of “geography” and to question the limits between cultural activities.

Kierkegaard’s rambling about from one place to the other was a premonition of his becoming later on, flâneur of the streets of Paris, just as Nietzsche’s words in “The Twilight of Idols”: “Sitting on your ass is a sin committed against the Holy Spirit” was a clear indication of the path to follow. Within this context, we tried our best to be among those walking along the streets of this ancient city. Infinite Sight tries to put on display the points of convergence between art and geography. Primarily the basic problematic here is how space and environment are viewed by contemporary art as well as what may be the reactions of geography to this “transformation of space” and a critical look on how this confusion might be solved.

art and geography. Primarily the basic problematic here is how space and environment are viewed by contemporary art as well as what may be the reactions of geography to this “transformation of space” and a critical look on how this confusion might be solved. Endless Look is dedicated to the ordinary people, to the common and anonymous hero, to those inhabiting nature, geographical locations, cities: to those who walk.

Derya Yücel

"Boundaries and Thresholds"

"Boundaries and Thresholds”, which is one of the three thematic subtitles of the 4th International Mardin Biennial, suggests that the artists’ works be read within a geographical, physical, intellectual, perceptional, intuitional and metaphorical context and within the framework of the concept of “space” as part of the scene of memory of limits, limitlessness and thresholds.

Be it concrete or abstract, the concept of “space” defines life from the standpoint of “boundary” in a geographical, physical, intellectual, psychological and existentialist sense as a formative element of individual and communal practices. The traditional limits of space can be conceived as forming the limits of culture and identity, of belonging to a certain space, of pertaining to the existential. This is because, in fact, the concept of limit is at the same time linked to the difference between “interior and exterior”. Establishing a limit is an act that embraces many possible meanings. It can be natural, or essential, or it can even a show of will and power. On the other hand, Georg Simmel’s following suggestion should also be taken into consideration: “man is not only a creature that establishes limits, it is at the same time a limitless creature.” (1).

Globalization has, for a very long time, been eroded by new setups that are rapidly invading it as a result of immigration, displacement/being uprooted from place of origin, information, capital, as well as power, public authority, the culture of consumption, rent economy that are added on to the movement of people and objects as sustainability of memory related to space. Information, history, memory and identity, at a certain point, turn into a phenomenon that is in constant change independently from space. From the relationship of civilization with space, to the nation-state systems, and from the imagination of global internationalism to immigration-exile and displacement, as well as geography-the sense of belonging-identity, are all concepts that are constantly changing. Today, any form of “space” loses the qualities that render them special and turn into an ambiguity that fails to support limits that are believed to exist. Thus, would it be possible to view these limits that insistently appear in these ambiguous mid-spaces, and accept them as the concept of “threshold” that in one and the same stride unites or separates these limits from our minds to our bodies, from our relationships to the dynamics of our daily life, from vast geographies to cities as a potential medium of encounter? If boundaries are fields of “struggle” that need to be protected; then could thresholds create a kind of “negotiation” zone with whoever is on the other side?

A threshold can, at the same time be either a point of encounter or of separation. The convergence of two different worlds (these worlds could be construed as a concept physical space or that pertaining to the mind) a passage point between being here and there, of me and the other, of interior and exterior. The threshold, apart from being the “logical act of turning inside-out, is the meeting point of opposites, a passage, the point where the world is turned upside down.”(2) . As a region of mediation, as the potential for the act of passing, as a metaphore for encounters, the threshold promises us many things. Because, “encounter materializes with both the protection of a necessary distance (limit/border) and of passing through it at the same time… Thresholds can become the equivalent of space of a project for liberation based on negotiation.” (3) Whether it constitutes our geographical borders, our personal and bodily limits, our limits regarding imagination and our creativity or boundaries posed on attaching meanings and our experiences on being others, the experience of “threshold” has the capacity to render possible a gesture of liberation.

The "Boundaries and Thresholds”, subtitle focuses on the concept of space within an architectural, philosophical, psychological, political and aesthetical context. The specific field of information and action of this context continues to appear as a strong medium of conveyance for artists. For quite some time artists have and continue to confront physical and mental limits and thresholds. "Boundaries and Thresholds” subtitle is searching its own limits and thresholds while including the viewer in the process of transforming it to an artistic form."

(1) Simmel, G. (1909), “Bridge and Door”, Rethinking Architecture. A Reader in Cultural History, N. Leach (ed.), Londra: Routledge, 1997. Pp.66-69

(2)Bourdieu, P., Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Pp.281-282

(3)Stavrides, S., “Towards the city of thresholds/Kentsel Heterotopya”, translation: Ali Karatay, Sel Publishing. Ýst., 2016. Pp.19-24