Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Istanbul Biennial 2007: Optimism in the Age of Global War

Art biennials seem to be everywhere these days as they are becoming deeply rooted in the global art arena. Before this phenomenon began, however, there were just three key biennials: Venice (founded 1895), Sao Paulo (1951) and Istanbul (1973).

This year’s Istanbul Biennial that ends November 4, 2007 is organized by the internationally acclaimed curator Hou Hanru, who is the current Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the San Francisco Art Institute.

In this dismal age of Bush, war is on everyone’s minds. Hou’s timely theme for the biennial is: Not only possible, but also necessary: Optimism in the Age of Global War which takes a look at how globalization is changing modernity and features artists who work in developing areas of the world.

The selection of artists show that creative types no longer need to live in Western art centers like New York or Paris, as truly exciting and provocative art is being made in many parts of the world.

Artists include: Kutluğ Ataman, Atom Egoyan, Cao Fei, Renée Green, Huang Yong Ping, Rem Koolhaas / AMO, Raqs Media Collective and Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Check out the latter’s cool website for their Flash text animations set to evocative jazz tracks:

Taiwanese artist Peng Hung-Chih is exhibiting his videos (see photo): 10 Commandments and Islamic Exegesis which features his dog licking an empty wall to reveal religious texts that are violent in message, thus showing both religions’ shared violence and misogyny. As the dog licks the blank white wall, dark-colored words suddenly materialize. In his videos, Peng looks at the complicated world of society, religion and politics from a dog’s perspective. As we know, dog spelled backwards is god.

For further info: the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts

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