Turkish Curator Resigns From Venice Biennale Pavilion



Esra Sarıgedik Öktem (photograph by Berk Kır, courtesy Istanbul Basis for Tradition and Arts)

Esra Sarıgedik Öktem, who was chosen to curate the Turkish pavilion on the upcoming sixtieth Venice Biennale, has resigned from the put up in protest of the Istanbul Biennial’s rejection of Defne Ayas because the curator of that occasion’s upcoming version. In an announcement posted on Instagram at present, August 14, Öktem wrote in regards to the Istanbul Basis for Tradition and Arts’s (IKSV) “want for a extra clear choice course of” relating to the appointment of now-former advisory board member Iwona Blazwick because the Istanbul Biennial curator as a substitute of Ayas, who had been unanimously chosen by members of the board — together with Blazwick herself.

The information that Ayas had been handed up for the curatorial position was met with dismay and anger by Turkish and worldwide cultural figures, who criticized the opaque decision-making technique of the IKSV in addition to the battle of curiosity of Blazwick’s choice. The Art Newspaper reported that three advisory board members resigned upon studying that Blazwick was chosen: Spanish impartial curator Agustín Pérez Rubio; Turkish curator and artwork historian Selen Ansen; and Turkish-Armenian artist Sarkis, who exhibited on the 2015 Turkish pavilion curated by Ayas.

Blazwick, who instantly resigned from the board upon accepting the curatorial position, has not but responded to Hyperallergic‘s request for remark. She not too long ago started her new position because the chair of the Public Art Experts panel inside the Royal Fee of AlUla in Saudi Arabia after 21 years because the director of Whitechapel Gallery in London.

It has been advised that IKSV selected to not appoint Ayas as curator due to her acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide — which Turkey continues to disclaim — throughout her work on the Turkish pavilion on the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. For the pavilion exhibition’s catalogue, Ayas included an essay by Rakel Dink, widow of the assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, that included a quick acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide; the textual content was censored by the Turkish authorities, and Ayas and Sarkis positioned the remaining print copies of {the catalogue} essay in a coffin overlaid with purple glass and displayed it within the pavilion.

Final week, Hyperallergic‘s Editor-in-Chief Hrag Vartanian penned an opinion highlighting how the IKSV’s resolution to cross on Ayas in favor of Blazwick is a testomony to Turkey’s decided efforts to expunge any affiliation with and deny the existence of the Armenian Genocide. The opinion by Vartanian additionally drew consideration to the truth that Koç Holding, the principle sponsor of the Istanbul Biennial, is run by the Koç household, which capitalized on the Armenian Genocide by allegedly acquiring confiscated Armenian property on a budget.

The controversy has reignited a debate about censorship and “artwashing” within the nation and the accountability of arts and tradition establishments like IKSV to create areas totally free expression, as argued within the impartial Turkish media outlet Politikyol.

Öktem described the rejection of Ayas, who she notes is a good friend and colleague of hers, as “deeply distressing” and stated the information led her to rethink her skilled and particular person selections and their impacts on the next generations.

“I’ve determined that I should be much more vigilant about avoiding conflicts which will come up in ways in which I can not foresee in the mean time,” she wrote, underscoring that she had labored all through her profession towards this chance on the Venice Biennale, however felt empowered by the chosen pavilion artist Gülsün Karamustafa to take a stand for Ayas. The curator declined to remark additional.

The IKSV has not addressed its resolution to forgo Ayas or every other shortlisted candidate in favor of Blazwick and has not but responded to Hyperallergic‘s request for touch upon the potential for reconsidering the choice in gentle of the backlash.

A portion of Esra Sarıgedik Öktem’s assertion of resignation shared on social media (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic by way of Instagram)


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