Contemporary art biennials and development
the Istanbul experience
This chapter addresses the subject of biennials of contemporary art in emerging and developing countries with a major focus on the Istanbul biennial, created in 1987. With a hybrid structure—between the event and the art institution—biennials are largely perceived as motors for social progress and cultural development, as illustrated by their phenomenal growth over the last 30 years in places such as Gwangju (Korea), Havana (Cuba), Tirana (Albania), Sharjah (UAE) and Istanbul (Turkey). An in-depth examination of the Istanbul experience will provide a crucial evaluation of the biennial's impact on the Turkish cultural landscape; is this "Biennial Miracle" real? By analyzing the relationship between the art event, the city, its infrastructures and economy, as well as the dynamics between international and local concern, this essay will also investigate the position of biennials in the globalized art world in order to discuss the influence and limits of such a model.
van Eersel, M. (2017)., Contemporary art biennials and development: the Istanbul experience, in J. Clammer & A. K. Giri (eds.), The aesthetics of development, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 189-206.
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