Topic: Doesn't this sound familiar?
The following very relevant excerpt is from an interview with HÃ¼seyin Bahri Alptekin by Raimund Minichbauer entitled The Issue of 'Otherness' has Become a ClichÃ©, But the Problem Still Exists
How will the overall situation concerning public funding in the field of contemporary visual arts develop?
The structure of funding and supporting the projects is hierarchical. One side is applying, the other is offering; one is proposing, the other is answering; one is asking, the other is compromising; one is wishing, the other is negotiating. One is supposed to be such and such and therefore the applicant claims that he/she is such and such ... Oneâ€™s position is controlled and he/she answers to that. One is supposed to be "the other" ...
That paradigm should be changed in favor of a critical perspective, which requires a dialogue on positioning and a discussion of the situation. As art is another kind of knowledge, the dialogue within cultures and cultural policies should be firstly based on "sameness," rather than "otherness". This will avoid notions of a hierarchical function that leads to ignorance and conflict. Any art event deals with specific knowledge and the way to reach that knowledge is very important. It is critical and political, it is an act and that is also part of the knowledge. Therefore all the perspectives (curatorial, financial, creative, post-productive, etc.) that construct the work and knowledge require a vital dialogue. Otherwise hospitality turns easily and suddenly into hostility and we miss the knowledge where art resides.
An actual event can be an appropriate example in this instance. A group exhibition opened on 8th July 2005 in Berlin, at the Martin Gropius Bau, called "Urban Realities: Focus Istanbul". This exhibition claims to cover the faces and perspectives of a city and culture which is a candidate for membership in the European Union and to valorize the strong emerging contemporary art scene and its components. The show consists of 40 artists from Istanbul and 40 artists from abroad. Most of them have mainly worked in Istanbul or on Istanbul, and some of the non-Istanbul artists who were commissioned to produce work had not been in Istanbul before. Curators and organizers have claimed that this is not one of these "national" or "regional" exhibitions such as a Turkish, Istanbul or Balkan show.
Up to that point all was fine. In the middle of the process of realizing the project, some artists had some problems with the structure, conceptual framework and curatorial and financial aspects of the project. A flux of e-mailing started among the artists and the curators, leading to a series of meetings in Istanbul organized among some of those participating artists from Istanbul. Through that process of communication or mis-communication, some artists have withdrawn from the project as well as some Istanbul curators and a writer.
Unfortunately, the project coordinators, curators and organizers took this situation as a boycott and didnâ€™t seek a dialogue to understand the motives for what happened. The reasons were not taken seriously and were viewed as a form of cultural rebellion. In fact no collective decision was taken, it was more of a collective reflex. The withdrawing artists had different individual reasons for not participating in the project, conceptual, cultural, ideological, ethical, curatorial and financial reasons. The participating artists were not considered as individual decision makers with individual artistic personae, but were seen as part of a cultural boycott. None of them have received a personal e-mail but only general ones addressed to all or the same letter with the address and name changed.
That was not really a collective act and it could happen to other similar projects with the same problems of a risky and slippery focus and a discriminatory structure. Unfortunately, this exploded the project. What was intended as a friendly project, a hospitality for Istanbul, its culture and its artists, turned into a situation of cultural hostility, all because of the missing dialogue between two cultures and a hierarchical cultural policy. A show is just a show. A show is not just a show.
For the full interview please go to http://eipcp.net/policies/2015/alptekin/en