5th International Istanbul Biennial, Turkey, 1997

[:es]At the Maiden’s Tower 5th Istanbul Biennial,97. En la Torre de la Doncella 5ª Bienal de Estambul, 1997. photo: Yüksel Ozseven[:]

5th International Istanbul Biennial, Turkey, 1997

Curator: Rosa Martínez.
October 5 to November 9. 1997. Istanbul. Turkey.


The 5th International Istanbul Biennial was staged at one main centre and a number of satellite venues. Located inside the Topkapi Palace gardens, the Imperial Mint -which perfectly embodied the idea of a city within a city- was the main venue. Other spaces, such as the Yerebatan Cistern, the Hagia Eirene Church or the Women´s Library also hosted art projects. Together with exceptional venues like the Maidens´ Tower or the Pera Palas Hotel, they catalyzed the artistic proposals and, by using the city’s main gates -the International Ataturk Airport, the Sirckeci and Haydarpasa train Stations, the 5th Biennial became both an exhibition and a walk.

Selected Artists: Ahtila. Eija-Liisa. Alaez, Ana Laura. Almeida, Helena. Altindere, Halil. Antoni, Janine. Ataman, Kutlug. Avsar, Vahap. Aziz, Sükran. Berksoy, Semiha. Berlin, Meta Isaeus. Bodnar, Eva Eszter. Bony, Oscar. Bourgeois, Louise. Bournigault, Rebecca. Buetti, Daniel. Caeckenbergh, Patrick van. Cattelan, Maurizio. Creten, Johan. Cross, Dorothy. Davis, Yael. Diller & Scofidio. Durham, Jimmie. Eliasson, Olafur. Emin, Tracey. Erdem, Türkan. Feyzdjou, Chohreh. François, Michel. Gill, Symrin. Golec, Leszek and Tatiana Czekalska. González Torres, Félix. Grigely, Joseph. Gutiérrez, Yolanda. Guzmán, Federico. Hauswolff, Michel von. Hemmo, Irit. Herrán, Juan Fernando. Hoeck, Richard. Höller, Carsten. IRWIN. Ibrahim, Bedi. Janssens, Ann Veronica. Kim, Soo-Ja. Kosmaoglou, Sofia. Kulik, Oleg. KÜLTÜR. Lakner, Antal. Langa, Moshekwa. Leonilson. Lindal, Anna. Lislegaard, Ann. Maestro, Lani. Massumi, Elahe. Mateus, Cristina. McCaslin, Matthew. Mendieta, Ana. Miralda, Antoni. Moral, Sükran. Mori, Mariko. Navridis, Nikos. Neshat, Shirin. Neuenschwander, Rivane. Obregón, Roberto. Orlan. Özseçen, Ebru. Pérez Bravo, Marta María. Piña, Manuel. May Post, Liza. Qiang, Cai Guo. Rakauskaite, Egle. Ribeiro, Flávia. Rist, Pipilotti. Romanos, Chryssa. Rosenfeld, Lotty. Semmes, Beverly. Sense:less. Sterbak, Jana. Sussman, Eve. Sangar, Bülent. Taylor-Wood, Sam. Tian-Miao, Lin. Valldosera, Eulàlia. Vickerson, Laura. Wallinger, Mark. Weber, Martin. Wirkkala, Maaria.

‘On Life, Beauty, Translations and Other Difficulties’

Under the title “On Life, Beauty, Translations and Other Difficulties” the 5th Istanbul Biennial synthetizes the desire to approach and explore some important points of discussion in contemporary esthetic thought and creation: the borderlines that separate art and life; the search for new meanings of beauty, and the awareness that we need languages to communicate even if translations produce displacements of meaning.

Besides its appearance as a totally autonomous entity, and the awareness that, as with any other language, it has its own laws, art also acts as a medium to relate human beings to different areas of reality, and may be considered as a translation, a vehicle for reinterpreting and creating new ways of perceiving and transforming the world. The pleasure of beauty, the strength and the intensity of an aesthetic experience in which emotions function as a form of knowledge is needed in those processes of comunication in which the ‘other’, as Duchamp said, is required to complete the meaning of the artwork.

An artwork may be seen as a terminal, a point of arrival and departure
between life and language, a space where one can play with signs generated by other fields of knowledge and experience (science, technology, mass media, politics, physicality, sexual identity…), a place where it is possible to value and to transform relations with the ‘others’ by articulating, to different degrees of intensity, the understanding of nature and the multiplicity of cultural differences, so we can move from the ‘pasive aesthetics of mirrors’ to a changing, multi-faceted and active ‘aesthetics of prisms’, where the gaze is multidirectional and inclusive.

Without neglecting the need for content, ideology or pathos, art is
striving to recover the vertigo and intensity associated with the idea of beauty. Beauty is not timeless and universal, beauty is a subjective experience linked to the rhetoric of appearance, to the linguistic qualities of the signifier and the pleasure that they produce in the beholder. Aesthetic values depend on historical and cultural variations of taste and today, from a holistic perspective, we can move from beauty to content and integrate mind and body, thought and emotion, rhetoric and philosophy, pleasure and knowledge to achieve a new conception of life.

Translation is implied in any form of creation. Creation is a displacement, a movement from one field (life, culture, experience) to another (visual or poetic languages…). Art today embodies a nomadic experience; it is becoming a form of energy related to displacement.
The desire to explore the differential spaces, the places of the ‘others’ and the fluidity and difficulties of translation between different contexts are being reviewed as a means of reinterpreting our position in the contemporary world.

To travel between those different spheres (cultural, sexual, linguistic…) is a journey of adventure with various risks and difficulties. The process of exploring and overcoming these difficulties is intrinsic in issues related to translation, life and beauty.

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