Posts tagged with "Istanbul Design Biennial":

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The Istanbul Design Biennial explores safe spaces vs. spaces of security

Unlike the previous Istanbul design biennials, which were located in the Galata Greek School, the current one is distributed in different galleries along a pedestrian corridor of the city. This was a curatorial decision and raises the question: what are spaces of education and how do they relate to other spaces? To put it more broadly: how are institutional spaces defined? What are their boundaries and how do they relate to what is outside them—recurring questions that gain special attention today due to the decline of public space and the privatization of institutions. Jan Boelen, the biennial's curator, repeated the phrase “safe spaces” during his introductory talk, a phrase that resonates strongly. But what is a safe space? Of course, security checks are always there, at the entrance to every gallery space of the Biennial. But there is a different premise in distributing the spaces of the biennial along the most populated pedestrian corridor of Istanbul. One can consider this distributed network in contrast to an example from New York: the recently completed Fulton Street Subway station in Manhattan brings together different subway lines and facilitates the control of a transit space. Its beautiful dome also embodies the kind of invisible centralization belonging to a state of security and control. Safe space, though, is not the same as space of security and control. Indeed, this is why the spaces of the biennial are distributed throughout a main pedestrian street in Istanbul, corresponding to the vision of an institution that is networked and additive. Each location is different and has different characteristics. The galleries themselves are very different, some in basements turned in on themselves and some with panoramic views of the city. Some of the exhibitions are co-curated and reflect very different sensibilities. In locations that don’t reproduce each other, there is diversity and difference. If one contrast could be established with traditional institutions, another one could be made with movements that aim to do away with institutions altogether. “Deinstitutionalization," a diverse movement across Europe in the 1960s, was a critique of the way institutions produced hierarchies and reproduced subjectivity. Often, critique began by challenging the boundaries of institutions, for example by dismantling the clear cut borders of a hospital. What we see in the biennial, though, is not deinstitutionalization: the art gallery is very much still a gallery. The question is, rather, how boundaries become permeable and institutions avoid doctrines. One answer may be through the structure of networks that connect things and people but do not override them. Hierarchies are established, but they are temporary. One sees this sensibility for example in Ebru Kurbak’s Infrequently Asked Questions, a work that involves refugee women who are asked which skills they could teach to the women in the society where they arrive at, and in Judith Seng’s School of Fluid Measures, which underscores the relational and performative aspects of measurements and values. We can be going through spaces of security forever but unremitting surveillance doesn’t make spaces safe. It creates ceaseless records of what we do, where we go, what we buy, but not necessarily how we live and die. Education, if it is to return to its core, needs safe spaces more than security. Safety is more physical and elementary, but also more conceptual. It is about having the space to think and be different, and about being able to dissent and at the same time, cooperate. It’s about vulnerability as much as strength, and about being able to fail, as this is the only way to learn. Indeed, failure is one of the best things one can see in a design context, and it is very much part of the process. Rather than emphasizing creative thinking that has by now become a technique employed by corporations in the form of brainstorming, the biennial asks us if we can learn differently. The move between different galleries and the urban space is critical for this kind of learning. Mark Wigley said in one of the roundtables that perhaps we need design to deal with reality—reality without design is too brutal and we need design’s optimism. In the 4th Istanbul Biennial, A School of Schools, the optimism of design is the possibility to learn differently.
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The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial focuses on the future of the process of design

The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial started this week, welcoming visitors to exhibits organized around the theme A School of Schools. Pieces are divided among thematic "schools," the names of which—Unmaking, Earth, Currents, Scale, Time, and Digestion—anchor the projects while slightly defamiliarizing what is commonplace. This becomes especially clear when one thinks of alternatives: Earth School could have been “World School,” or Currents School could have been “Networks School,” but the chosen names allow the visitors to see familiar concepts in a different light. The Currents School brings together a number of projects that are based on different definitions of currents: currency, voltage, sea currents, information, and migrations. For example, Stitching Worlds, an art-based research project led by Ebru Kurbak shows the ways in which textile crafts like crochet, embroidery, and knitting can inform the electronics industry. Another work by Kurbak, Lonely Planet hacks the travel guide's book on Syria with first-person interviews with people who fled Syria. Fugu School by åbäke traces the fugu fish to the Bosphorus while uncovering histories and intersecting fields of knowledge. Open Sesame by CMP office underscores an alternative network to Alibaba by bringing together research on the migration of Aleppo soap factories, leather craftsmen producing replicas of luxury brands, and street vendors. What unfolds through these projects is an expanded “philology” of networks and world wide webs. One realizes that there can be alternative networks and that different internets can be constructed. In the Earth School, what could have been a generic “world” becomes very specific, geological, and material in projects that address earthquakes, survival, and the harnessing of new materials. As one moves through the school's different galleries, one can imagine Istanbul in the aftermath of an earthquake with Hope on Water from the Istanbul-based team SO? that proposes a temporary floating city on the Bosphorus. SulSolSal’s Staying Alive is part a “wunderkammer,” and part a survival guide for natural and social disasters. On the uppermost floor, one finds alternative futures with Atelier Luma’s Blooming Algae, a project that explores the potential of algae biopolymers as a material for everyday objects designed in collaboration with designers in Cairo, Arles, and Istanbul. Meriem Chabani and Maya Nemeta of New South reimagine the Mediterranean with If Algae Mattered, a fictional map where Algeria becomes a new geopolitical center as the balance of power shifts from North to South with algae becoming a main resource. In the Unmaking School, we see the relationship between humankind and technology, and unmaking becomes a condition of both making and learning. Post-laboratory by Ottonie von Roeder involves a series of robots that are designed after workers. The teamaker robot is designed for the Istanbul Biennial in conversation with three teamakers in the city, who then reflect on their labor and what they would do if robots could complete their tasks. WaterSchool by Studio Makkink and Bey is a speculation on a primary school based on water as a material and theme, bringing together a wide array of projects as part of its curriculum. Refreshingly, the works in the biennial display a mixture of techniques, processes, modes of production, and temporalities, including digital and analog methods. Ana Peñalba’s Istanbul Techno-Tourist is a series of hand-made drawings based on the images of Istanbul’s iconic architecture found in social media. Emelie Röndahl’s Google Weaving Stop-Time includes 20 hand-woven carpets that are based on images found in Google searches. Although the same words enter the search engine, the results vary because of the different algorithms that Google uses in different places. The carpets tie the images to specific places and slow down the time in which they are consumed. If Peñalba’s and Röndahl’s works incorporate the digital ecology of images to their modes of production, there are also works that question the role of the designer in this new environment. For example, Crossing Parallels explores the possibilities of orchestrating a basket weaving technique and 3-D printing by closely working with an artisan and a craftsperson. Throughout the exhibitions, every project is presented as a process rather than a finished product, accompanied by a strong narrative component in audio, video, or text. The emphasis on the project as process makes the biennial difficult to photograph, which comes as a relief in the age of Instagram. In line with the emphasis on process, several projects are results of collaboration and fieldwork. There is a strong ethos of thinking about labor and work throughout the works in the Biennial. Boelen calls this a “new way of empathy and of sharing knowledge.” The biennial's press conference ended with a performance by Vivien Tauchmann titled Textiles. Members of the press were invited to join in a performance which at first seemed like a stretching exercise but the gestures were those specific to menial tasks in the textile industry. It is useful to compare the performance to an earlier one like Diller Scofidio’s Bad Press (1993), where the labor-intensive task of ironing is employed to produce shirts in states that are not stackable or utilizable. If in the earlier work, discipline was the keyword, in Tauchmann’s design-as-performance, embodiment and empathy are keywords. Presenting Tauchmann’s work as part of the press conference also suggests that criticism or response to the works in the biennial requires empathy as well. Indeed, it is through empathy we can start discussing education anew. The biennial presents one of the best ways of learning by design: seeing links between things that were not necessarily obvious and rethinking current notions that make up the contemporary world. If there is a pedagogy of curation, this could be it. As Boelen explains, curation is about translating a project and sharing it with the public. This is not a school and visitors to the exhibition are not students, but what we see is curating as a pedagogical effort. When I asked Boelen what is missing in this “school of schools,” his answer was “I hope a lot” in the sense that this school, and, in a way, every school is an open work. Instead of a comprehensive disciplinary curriculum, the “school of schools” is project-based, unfinished and always under construction. He hopes the biennial will inspire other people to think of other schools and to add to the “school of schools.”
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Jan Boelen named curator of next Istanbul Design Biennial

The Istanbul Design Biennial has announced the curator for its 4th installment. Jan Boelen will take the reigns for the exhibition, which will be held in 2018. Boelen brings to the position extensive curatorial and artistic direction experience from current positions he holds in Belgium and France. Boelen is the artistic director of Z33 House of Contemporary Art, in Hasselt, Belgium, as well as the artistic director of Atelier LUMA, “an experimental laboratory for design” in Arles, France. Along with those roles, Boelen serves on the advisory boards and committees for such institutions as the V&A Museum of Design and the Creative Industries Fund in the Netherlands. Z33’s mission is to showcase everyday design objects and contemporary art in unexpected and novel ways. The institution sits on lines separating design, art research, and exhibition. As part of his directorship at Z33, Boelen also curated the 24th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2014. The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial will take place from September 22 through November 4, 2018. The announcement of Boelen as the curator is the first major news of the exhibition, with more information about the show’s conceptual framework expected to arrive in the fall of 2017. The 2016 edition of the exhibition was curated by Mark Wigley and Beatriz Colomina and focused on design as a means of understanding what it means to be human.  
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Does design make us human?

Open for only a month, from October 22nd through November 20th, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial was a quick look at an extremely expanded understanding of design. Far from a trade show of the latest in design objects or material innovations, Are We Human? The Design of the Species 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years explored the relationship between what it is to design and what it means to be human. In order to provoke a response to this instigation, co-curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley set out eight interlinked propositions to which the participating 250 designers, architects, scholars, and scientists reacted:
  1. Design is always design of the human
  2. The Human is the designing animal
  3. Our species is completely suspended in endless layers of design
  4. Design radically expands human capability
  5. Design routinely constructs radical inequalities
  6. Design is even the design of neglect
  7. “Good Design” is an anesthetic
  8. Design without anesthetic asks urgent questions about our humanity
These propositions set up a standing provocation: What defines a human is the act of design. The resulting show investigated this claim, presenting evidence in support of, and questioning of, these eight statements. The array of work ranged from very physical infrastructures of resources, power, and movement around the world, to the ephemeral space of social media. The show specifically rejected the construct of looking at the immediate past and future, usually two years before and after a biennial, and instead looked back to the beginning of humanity and the path to its current state. The defined understanding of design presented by the show was nothing less than extreme in its scope, temporally and ideologically. The work of the participants was divided into four overlapping “clouds”: Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life, and Designing Time. Together the show strove to present a worldview in which humans were at once defined by and inseparable from the things they design. In many cases, the curators and participants would not have to look far to find evidence to support their many investigations. Istanbul itself was leveraged repeatedly to enforce the narrative of the show. In one striking exhibit, a cast of hundreds of footprints, recently found during a subway excavation in the city, shows evidence of Neolithic humans ritually gathering in large groups, while all wearing shoes. A room away, a dance floor produced a space that highlights the much-misunderstood world of the Köçek, a sexually ambiguous class of dancers from Turkey’s recent history. In both cases, clothing was presented as an augmentation for either utility or performance, expanding the definition of the human condition. Such investigations continued through the show, looking into the human body and to its immediate relationship to the world. Over and over throughout the Biennial, the idea of human existence was defined by endless layers of design. Prosthetics, complex neural maps, medical pedagogy, and the body of Olympic athletes all highlighted the direct and indirect indications of design's relationship to the human body. Turkish gravestones, atomic testing sites, oil production infrastructure, and geopolitical gerrymandering, questioned society’s—and design's—relationship to the planet as a whole. As a whole, the Biennial felt neither cynical nor optimistic. Rather, it built an image of the world that, for good or for bad, was a construct of humanity. This image was less about dividing the world into artificial or natural, or destructive or constructive. Instead, it illuminated a world of facts and situations, each intertwined with a definition of what it means to be human. Often invoking the concept of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological age in which humans are the dominant influence on the world’s environment and climate, the show was unflinching in laying out a case for humans’ role in shaping every aspect of the world we live in. By broadening the topic and scope of the Biennial, Colomina and Wigley, admittedly, were attempting to questions the very role of all biennials. With the proliferation of biennials and triennials around the word, each one is undoubtedly compared to every other. The breadth of this show's topic set it in opposition those with very specific investigations as well as those events with loose or ambiguous themes. Yet despite the seemingly expansive vision of this show, its tightly curated thematic prompts and Andres Jaque’s subtle exhibition design held it together. The result was a biennial that allowed visitors to focus on whether they agreed or disagreed with the show's premise, rather than trying to figure out what the show was even about. A note must also be said about who actually went to this exhibition. While many biennials may attract a majority of visitors from around the world (but within the design field), Istanbul was decidedly attended by locals. The organizers and the curators knew well that the Istanbul Design Biennial, this being the third iteration, is mostly attended by Turkish residents. The country’s recent political situation has only exasperated this point. Some estimates put Turkey’s tourism numbers down by over 30% in the past year. At the same time, Turkey has taken on more than 2.5 million refugees from Syria. And though it may be hard to quantify exactly who is coming to the show, these facts felt somewhat fitting as part of Are We Human? The thoughts of shifting populations, global economic and political systems, all enforced the thesis of the unrelenting impact of humans on the world as a whole. While short in length, Are We Human? The Design of the Species 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years, was big on vision. By just asking “are we human?” it opened up a dialogue that could be as short as “yes” or considerably protracted. In either case, it put forward that the key to any discussion of this topic is a relationship to, and the act of, design. In effect, it raised the discourse of design above mere products and objects while grounding it in the very fabric of humanity.
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e-flux debuts an architectural edition for the Istanbul Design Biennial

As part of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, the newly created e-flux Architecture, a division of the online art publication e-flux, is curating a reading room exhibition and series of written works that will also be available online. Under the title Superhumanity, editors Beatriz Colomina, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anton Vidokle, and Mark Wigley have gathered over 50 writers, scientists, artists, architects, designers, philosophers, historians, archeologists, and anthropologists to comment on the biennial’s theme, Are We Human?. Since September, e-flux Architecture has been publishing essays that explore the relationship between design and humanity. Contributors to Superhumanity include Andrew Herscher, Keller Easterling, Joseph Grima, Sanford Kwinter, and Liam Young.

Co-editor Nikolaus Hirsch explained the driving inquiry behind the project, and the breadth of design that was being examined. “Our question is: What is design today? Who designed the lives we live today? How does one contribute to such a world in which design is almost everywhere, not only in the newest chair but in online identities, personal devices, new materials, interfaces, networks, infrastructures, data, organisms, and genetic codes?”

e-flux Architecture will publish contributions to Superhumanity, on the web, and through email dispatches. The Superhumanity reading room at the Istanbul Biennial will be on exhibit from October 22 through November 20 at DEPO (Tütün Deposu Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12, Tophane 34425 Istanbul).

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2016 Istanbul Biennial announces participants and projects

The 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial has announced its participants and project titles. More than 70 projects are being produced for the exhibition entitled ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years. Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley are curating the show that will include “designers, architects, artists, theorists, choreographers, filmmakers, historians, archaeologists, scientists, labs, centers, institutes and NGOs.” The biennial will run from October 22nd through November 20th at five sites throughout the city of Istanbul. These venues include the Galata Greek Primary School, Studio-X Istanbul, Depo in Karaköy, Alt Art Space in Bomonti, and Istanbul Archaeological Museums in Sultanahmet. The work will also be divided into four “Clouds.” Themes for these “Clouds” are Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life, and Designing Time. Each of them takes a look at the changing relationship of design and the world around us. The show will also include six curatorial interventions lead by Colomina and Wigley. The interventions are the work of Princeton and Columbia students who have been working in seminars for the past year. The interventions will be installed in the exhibition with the other participants' works. The range of participants, from five continents, range from individual practices to well-established design firms. The projects and the participants include: The Shepherd, Bager Akbay (Turkey) Mutant Space, Atif Akin (Turkey) Observer Affect / Observer Effect, Zeynep Çelik Alexander (Turkey), Vanessa Heddle, Elliott Sturtevant (Canada) Mixed Being, Lucia Allais (United Kingdom/Italy) Archaeology of Things Larger than Earth, Pedro Alonso & Hugo Palmarola (Chile) Milano Animal City, Stefano Boeri (Italy) Window Behaviorology, Atelier Bow-Wow / Yoshiharu Tsukamoto Lab. at Tokyo Institute of Technology / YKK AP Window Research Institute (Japan) Space Design by Galina Balashova, Galina Balashova (Russia), Philipp Meuser (Germany)  Fictional Humanisms: A Critical Reportage, Marco Brizzi & Davide Rapp (Italy) 1 Brain, 100 Billion Neurons, 100 Trillion connections, Brown Institute for Media Innovation, Center for Spatial Research with the Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University (USA) Texas City Landscan, Center for Land Use Interpretation (USA) Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo, Laura Kurgan (South Africa/USA) and the Center for Spatial Research (USA) The Immortal, Revital Cohen (United Kingdom), Tuur Van Balen (Belgium) Going Fluid: The Cosmetic Protocols of Gangnam, Common Accounts, Igor Bragado (Spain), Miles Gertler (Canada) Art Fiction, François Dallegret (Canada) Human Treasure, Tacita Dean (United Kingdom) Kontrollraum / Control Room, Thomas Demand (Germany) Unspoken, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA) World Brain: Automatism, Stéphane Dougoutin (France), Gwenola Wagon (Canada) The Unstable Object (II), Daniel Eisenberg (USA) You will not be able to do it, Keller Easterling (USA) The Designer Designed by the Humans, estudio Herreros (Spain) Portable Indo Pacific, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism and UTS (Spain/Australia) A Natural History of Human Rights, Forensic Architecture in collaboration with FIBAR: Baltasar Garzón, m7red and Irendra Radjawali (United Kingdom/Spain/Brazil/Argentina) City of Abstracts and Lectures from Improvisation Technologies, William Forsythe (Germany/USA) The Breaking Point, or The Paradox of Origins, Anselm Franke (Germany) Welcome to the Anthropocene, Globaïa (Canada) Space Debris 1957-2016, Stuart Grey (United Kingdom) 5TH HELENA, Mathew Hale (United Kingdom) 51Sprints, Het Nieuwe Instituut (Netherlands) City of 7 Billion, Joyce Hsiang, Bimal Mendis (USA) MUSSELxCHOIR, Natalie Jeremijenko (Australia) GUINEA PIGS; A Minor History of Engineered Man, Lydia Kallipoliti, Andreas Theodoridis (Greece/USA) Anatomy and Safe, Ali Kazma (Turkey) “It is obvious from the map,” Thomas Keenan (USA) and Sohrab Mohebbi (Iran), with Charles Heller (USA) and Lorenzo Pezzani (Italy) Embodied Computation, Axel Kilian (Germany) The Perfect Human, Jørgen Leth (Denmark) The Anthropophagic Body and the City: Flavio de Carvalho, Jose Lirá (Brazil) Open Future, The Living / Sculpting Evolution Group, MIT Media Lab (USA) Maropeng Acts I & II, Lesley Lokko (Ghana) Memex, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Analog, FBFX, Duologue (United Kingdom) Köçek Dance Floor, m-a-u-s-e-r (Germany/Turkey) Glitter Disaster, McEwen Studio (USA) The Institute of Isolation, Lucy McRae in collaboration with Lotje Sodderland (United Kingdom) Ines-table, Enric Miralles (Spain) & Benedetta Tagliabue (Italy) Manchas Mies, Domi Mora (Spain) An Unfinished Encyclopedia of Scale Figures Without Architecture / Model Furniture, MOS Architects (USA) Architektur / Räume / Gesten, Antoni Muntadas (Spain) Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture, NEMESTUDIO, Neyran Turan & Mete Sonmez (Turkey) Please let me go, away…, New Territories / M4 with Pierre Huyghe (Thailand/France) Frederick Kiesler’s Magic Architecture: Caves, Animals, and Tools from the Prehistoric to the Atomic Era, Spyros Papapetros (Greece) A Media Archaeology of Ingenious Designs, Jussi Parikka (Finland), Ayhan Ayteş (Turkey) Objects of Daydreaming, PATTU, Cem Kozar, Işıl Ünal (Turkey) South Africa on the Cusp of Revolution, Martha Rosler (USA) Beirut Bombastic!, Rana Salam (Lebanon) White on White, Alfredo Thiermann & Ariel Bustamante (Chile) Spidernauts… Dark webs…,  Tomás Saraceno (Argentina) The Connectome: A New Dimension of Humanity, Seung Lab, H. Sebastion Seung & Amie R. Sterling (USA) The Visit, SO? (Turkey) Autonomy of Images, Hito Steyerl (Germany) Portable Person, Studio Works (USA) Archaeology of Violence (The Forest as Design), Paulo Tavares (Brazil) & Armin Linke (Germany) The Microbial Design Studio: 30-day Simit Diet, Orkan Telhan (Turkey) Museum of Oil—Deep Space and After Fire Territorial Agency (Italy/Finland/United Kingdom) Voyager—Humanity in Interstellar Space, Universal Space Program, Evangelos Kotsioris (Greece) and Rutger Huiberts (Netherlands) The Hand—The Whole Man in Miniature, Madelon Vriesendrop (Netherlands) Detox USA, Mark Wasiuta (Canada), Florencia Alvarez (Argentina) Information Fall-Out: Buckminster Fuller’s World Game, Mark Wasiuta (Canada), Adam Bandler (USA) Delusional Mandala, Lu Yang (China) Virtual Interior Istanbul, Annett Zinsmeister (Germany)
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Zoë Ryan to Curate 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial

Zoe_Ryan_01 Zoë Ryan, curator of architecture and design at the Art Institute of Chicago, has been selected to curate the second Istanbul Design Biennial, taking place from October 18 through December 14, 2014. Read AN's report from the previous Istanbul Design Biennial here. Ryan has been working to expand the Art Institute's architecture and design holdings and teaches at the School of the Art Institute and at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Previously, she worked at New York's Van Alen Institute and the Museum of Modern Art. (Photo: Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)