Conceptual Framework of Direnal-Istanbul Resistance Days: What Keeps Us Not-Alive?

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,  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 for us living under the neoliberal hegemony.  We add the question: ‘What Keeps Mankind Not-Alive?’. We acknowledge the urgency in these times when 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 World Bank 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 their meetings down 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 Commissariat of Culture

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:

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