by Angela Harutyunyan, Aras Özgün & Eric Goodfield
In this paper we discuss the production of the Istanbul Biennial, and specifically that of its eleventh edition in 2009, as an event. By looking at the sponsorship, curatorial strategies, and formal aspects of the exhibitions constituting the Biennial, we explore the contradiction between the ideological and economic conditions in which it functions and its ambitious claims to radical emancipatory politics. [tooltip content=”that is, Angela, Aras and Eric” url=”” ]We [/tooltip]argue that the art event operates as a global event in which contemporaneity itself, raised to the level of the sublime, becomes a statement of the politics of aesthetics. We juxtapose the Biennial to its reactions in the form of counter-events set up by autonomous art collectives in Istanbul through which attention was brought to the actual social, political, and economic conditions the event sought to evade and appropriate in its self-construction as a universal signifier of cosmopolitan modernity.