We humans are surrounded by neighbors. People living right next to us are our closest neighbors. But also states are our neighbors. In both cases, communication can work well, or badly. Communication is a crucial factor that often decides on peace or war, in our immediate surroundings, or between neighboring states.
The 15th Istanbul Biennial collaborates with Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich to bring some international artists together to question the notion of home and neighbourhood until 29 April 2018.
Only 12 of the original 56 participating artists are included, and two new artists have been added. The concept itself has remained unchanged. Entitled “A good neighbour_on the move” the exhibit is curated by Elmgreen & Dragset, curators of the 15th Istanbul Biennial and Bernhart Schwenk, head of contemporary art at the Pinakothek der Moderne.
The show can be seen as a dialogue illustrating how a globalised world is also changing the self-understanding of public art institutions and their exhibitions.
The artists invited by the curators illuminate notions of good neighbourliness and ways of interacting with neighbours and foreigners. As the first cooperation between the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Istanbul Biennale, ‘a good neighbour’ will also contribute to building new connections between Turkey and Germany.
All the works reflect the artists’ own personal experiences with global conflicts and social tensions, as well as different roles of men and women, and various forms of living together. The artists also examine how our concepts of homeland, neighborhood and cultural identity have changed over the years.
The starting point of the exhibition are figures with wire heads by Vlassis Caniaris, reflecting questions of freedom, foreignness, migration and homelessness. Already in 1988, Caniaris created the installation based on his own experiences. Together with his parents, he moved from Greece to Berlin during the 1970s, and thus into a new neighborhood.
Burcak Bingöl also focuses on observation and surveillance. At the Istanbul Biennial, her embellished ceramic cameras were hanging at the same spots all over the city where real cameras were also hanging. The Turkish artist’s work deals with society’s permanent surveillance. Now, her cameras are hanging in the Pinakothek. After all, surveillance also takes place in Germany.
One of the most courageous works is the film “Wonderland” by Turkish artist Erkan Özgen who is of Kurdish descent, lives in the Kurdish part of Turkey. For his three-minute video, he filmed a deaf-mute Syrian boy who pantomimes to describe the horrors of war, making viewers imagine brutal scenes.
The show in the Bavarian capital presents these works in a totally different context than was the case with the Istanbul Biennial. Curator Bernhart Schwenk finds this aspect particularly interesting, as in this way, a totally new significance has been added to the artworks.
Additionally, the character of the museum building with its classical look has added some impact to the show. Hanging next to works by Warhol, Kirchner and Beckmann, these contemporary pieces seem to be more vivid, colorful and bold.
“A good neoighbour_on the move”
Pinakothek der Moderne – Munich
Sammlung Moderne Kunst