Curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi
Whilst awaiting the main dates of the Biennali of 2013 – Venice and Istanbul above all – other exhibitions, more experimental in alternations and alternatives, have already thrilled art lovers across the north of Turkey this summer. This is thanks to the Biennale in Sinop, coming to its 4th iteration, which has officially opened on the 24th of August, after an intense month of activities. The Sinop Biennale began in 2006, as an initiative of the European Cultural Association. Its main characteristic is the direct involvement of the local population in creating the works of art; the Biennale is now a permanent fixture with the potential to widen the international horizon of contemporary art in Turkey, outside Istanbul.
This exhibition features the work of more than 30 artists from all over the world, probing the obscurities of knowledge. Wisdom of Shadow: Art in the Era of Corrupted Information as a concept was the idea of the curator Isin Onol and was critically complemented by Aslı Çetinkaya, Elke Falat, Dimitrina Sevova, Janet Kaplan, Sean Kelly and Beral Madra. The last of these is a key figure in the Turkish art scene. The only Italian representatives will be the curator duo of Francesco Ragazzi and Francesco Urbano (Associazione E), who will present the project of the artist Francesco Bertelé with Eddie Spanier, Caronte #1 – L’Ile Flottante.
L’Ile flottante is a sometimes dangerous, artistic collaboration, which take place between the shores of the Black Sea, in some parts of the city of Sinop – the birth place of Diogene the Cynic – and will remain in the memories of inhabitants and visitors. The Italian team, guided by Francesco Bertelé, built up a floating monument that appears in the open sea. This ‘Ile Flottante’ (floating isle), created with the technical support of the archeoceramist Massimiliano Petrini, resembles an ancient salvaged stone artefact emerging from the waters, and miraculously, not sinking.
Thanks to an ancient Etrurian technique for cooking clay, the “discovery” challenges the seascape’s gravity, erecting itself in a vertical position and floating on the surface of the water. With the help of Sinop’s sailormen and their ships, l’Ile Flottante is now installed on the bank of the sea most exposed to unpredictable squalls. Here the swimmers often think they are bathing in a paradise, but actually their lives are tragically put at risk by the sea’s current. Once positioned, the clay mass then fulfils the main function of every monument: that of remembrance, oscillating between signs of danger, paying homage to the fallen, witness to an adventure, unexplainable apparition. It will be an iridescent, living symbol of contemporary mythology.
It is not only the direct involvement of locals that contributes to the creation of legendary memories, but also the perceptible spread of sight and sound feeding the collective imagination. A special advertising campaign was diffused indeed in public spaces of the city. A billboard and more than 50 posters transformed Sinop in an outdoors blog. Speakers around the city, newspapers, radios, the internet and word of mouth broadcast tales and testimonies which are channelled as part of the dry land promotion element of the project: L’Ile Flottante Headquarters.
Recalling robberies, relic swaps and forgeries that occurred many centuries ago between the Ottoman Empire and the modern European countries, this artistic operation is located right in the “corrupted information” era. Nevertheless fiction is not predominant, but rather the honest misunderstanding of reality, which we find at the foundation of every story.
The project is supported by DEMO/MOVIN’UP 2012 by Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali – Direzione Generale per il Paesaggio e le Belle Arti, l’architettura e l’arte contemporanea; with the partcipation of Direzione Generale per lo Spettacolo dal Vivo, and GAI – Associazione per il Circuito dei Giovani Artisti Italiani.