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From Istanbul: “What Keeps Us Not-Alive?”

September 10, 2009

This came down the wire this week, a response from Resistanbul to the 11th Annual Istanbul Biennial, which opens this week, and the IMF/World Bank meetings in Istanbul Oct. 1-8:
An open letter to the curators, artists, participants of the 11th
International Istanbul Biennial and to all artists and art-lovers:

“We have to stop pretending that the popularity of politically engaged
art within the museums, magazines and markets over the last few years
has anything to do with really changing the world. We have to stop
pretending that taking risks in the space of art, pushing boundaries of
form, and disobeying the conventions of culture, making art about
politics makes any difference. We have to stop pretending that art is a
free space, autonomous from webs of capital and power.
It’s time for the artist to become invisible. To dissolve back into life.

We have read the conceptual framework of the 11th International Istanbul
Biennial with great interest and a grin on our faces. We have long
understood that the Istanbul Biennial aims at being one of the most
politically engaged transnational art events. And what a coincidence!
This year the Biennial is quoting comrade Brecht, dropping notions such
as neolibreal hegemony, and riding high against global capitalism. We
kindly appreciate the stance but we recognize that art should have never
existed as a separate category from life. Therefore we are writing you
to stop collaborating with arm dealers such as the Koç Holding which
white wash themselves in warm waters of the global art scene and invite
you to the life, the life of resistance.
The curators wonder whether Brecht’s question ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive’
is equally urgent today under the neoliberal hegemony we live under. We
add the question: ‘What Keeps Mankind Not-Alive?’. We acknowledge the
urgency in these times when we do not have the right to work, we do not
get free healthcare and education, our right to our cities our squares
and streets are taken by corporations, our land, our seeds and water are
stolen, we are driven into precarity and a life without security, when
we are killed crossing their borders and left alone to live an uncertain
future with their potential crises. But we fight. And we resist in the
streets not in corporate spaces reserved for tolerated institutional
critique so as to help them clear their conscience. We fought when they
wanted to kick us out of our neighborhoods, from our houses in Sulukule,
Gülensu and Ayazma, we also fought against those who would smear the
land with cyanide to search for gold in Bergama and the Kaz Mountains,
those who aggrieved hazelnut producers in Giresun and cotton producers
in Cukurova, those who blackened the lives of jeans sandblasting workers
with the silicosis disease, making them work for 12 hours a day in
unhealthy conditions in workshops, those who turned the docks into a
death camp at Tuzla by not providing the workers safe working
conditions, those who endanger the lives of the people in the region in
Sinop and Akkuyu by wishing to construct nuclear power plants, and those
who caused workers in Desa and Yorsan to be fired for registering with
trade unions. And our fight and hope keep us alive.
The curators also point out that the one of the crucial questions of
this Biennial is “how to ‘set pleasure free,’ how to regain
revolutionary role of enjoyment”. We set pleasure free in the streets,
in our streets. We were in Prague, Hong Kong, Athens, Seattle,
Heilegendamm, Genoa, Chiapas and Oaxaca, Washington, Gaza and Istanbul….
Revolutionary role of enjoyment is out there and we cherish it
everywhere because we need to survive and we know that we are changing
the world with our words, with our acts, with our laughter. And our life
itself is the source of all sorts of pleasure.
And we are in İstanbul and preparing ourselves to welcome 13.000
delegates of the IMF and the DB as we do wherever they go. We declared
that we are not hospitable. We will take it to the streets in the
carnival of resistance (1-8 October) and shut them down.
Join the resistance and the insurgence of imagination! Evacuate
corporate spaces, liberate your works. Let’s prepare works and visuals
(poster, sticker, stencil etc.) for the streets of the resistance days.
Let’s produce together, not within the white cube, but in the streets
and squares during the resistance week! Creativity belongs to each and
every of us and can’t be sponsored.
Long live global insurrection!
Resistanbul Committee of Social Realism
(english) (turkish)
Resistanbul-Resistance Days Coordination Against IMF and World Bank will
work in September for the preparation and mobilization of Resistance
Days activities and actions. The exact date of the Visuals Workshop can
be followed from the website. For your participation, suggestions, and
more revolutionary information:

Culture & Media

One comment on “From Istanbul: “What Keeps Us Not-Alive?””

I really love this part-
“Revolutionary role of enjoyment is out there and we cherish it everywhere because we need to survive and we know that we are changing the world with our words, with our acts, with our laughter. And our life itself is the source of all sorts of pleasure.”
I just came from a “punk rock-DIY-human powered” carnival in VT. Its all about participation and some really wholesome fun, with some debauchery, but maintains its integrity as a culture.
I don’t have time to, entirely, explain right now.
But it feels good to participate in events that are entirely produced by the people present, that there is little to no commerce, and that it is experienced in the moment.
Thanks Brehmentown!

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