Art in the heart of Mesopotamia: The 6th Mardin Biennial

 Art in the heart of Mesopotamia: The 6th Mardin Biennial

Nestled in the ancient lands of Mesopotamia, Mardin stands as a testament to history, culture, and art. This year, it proudly hosts the 6th Mardin Biennial, a significant cultural event running from May 10 to June 10, 2024. With the theme “Further Away,” this biennial invites artists and audiences to explore beyond the conventional, delving into deeper artistic, political, and sociological questions.

Organized by the Mardin Cinema Association and directed by Döne Otyam and Hakan Irmak, the biennial is curated by Ali Akay. Otyam emphasizes the biennial’s innovative nature, drawing inspiration from Mardin’s rich cultural heritage. “Spreading across various venues in the city, the biennial will bring new approaches and interpretations to today’s crucial questions and problems through the language of contemporary art,” she says.

“Further Away”: A Journey Through Complex Questions

The theme “Further Away” encourages participants to look beyond current issues and envision new possibilities. Curator Ali Akay poses critical questions: “How can we find ways out of the structures that entangle our freedoms and look at the globalized past of societies? How can we transform struggles against racism, nature, and culture into a state of coexistence?” These questions guide the biennial’s exploration, aiming to inspire thought and creativity.

Showcasing Diverse Artists and Works

This year’s biennial features renowned artists like Ahmet Öğüt, Ayşe Erkmen, Ali Kazma, and Aslı Çavuşoğlu, among others. Their works will be displayed in various historic venues throughout Mardin, enhancing the city’s unique architectural and cultural landscape. For instance, Ayşe Erkmen’s site-specific installation “Kırpma” at the German Headquarters intertwines the location’s history with contemporary artistic expression.

Mardin’s Unique Venues

The biennial will be spread across multiple venues including the Design Foundation Gallery, German Headquarters, Develi Han, Sakıp Sabancı Mardin City Museum, and others. Each venue has been selected to best reflect the theme and the artworks on display, providing a rich, immersive experience for visitors.

Engaging Events and Conferences

The biennial also features conferences with notable speakers like Pierre Montebello, David Lapoujade, Éric Alliez, and Nilüfer Göle, hosted at the Mardin Sakıp Sabancı City Museum. These events offer deeper insights into the relationship between art and society, fostering meaningful discussions.

The “Collective” Exhibition

This edition includes the “Invited” program, where art world figures or institutions are invited to curate exhibitions. Under this program, the “Collective” exhibition, coordinated by Ebru Nalan Sülün, showcases works by Ahmet Rüstem Ekici & Hakan Sorar, Cansu Sönmez, and Mehmet Çimen, providing diverse artistic perspectives.

Curator Ali Akay’s Vision

Curator Ali Akay explains the biennial’s theme and the significance of Mardin: “Our goal is to explore ways out of the structures that restrict our freedoms and look at the global past of societies. Mardin’s rich history and cultural diversity, combined with the universal language of art, provide a unique backdrop for this exploration.”

The 6th Mardin Biennial is more than just an art event; it is a platform that addresses societal issues through the lens of art. Blending Mardin’s historical and cultural richness, this biennial promises a unique experience for all visitors. For more information and updates, visit and follow @mardinbiennial on Instagram.

How to Get to Mardin

Traveling to Mardin: A Quick Guide Mardin is well-connected to major cities in Turkey, making it accessible for visitors from around the world.

  • By Air: The nearest airport is Mardin Airport (MQM), which is about 20 km from the city center. There are direct flights from Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir.
  • By Road: Mardin is accessible by bus and car from major Turkish cities. It is approximately a 15-hour drive from Istanbul and an 8-hour drive from Ankara.
  • By Rail: There are no direct train routes to Mardin, but you can take a train to nearby cities and then continue by bus or car.
  • Local Transport: Once in Mardin, you can explore the city by taxi, minibus (dolmuş), or even on foot, especially in the old city where the narrow, winding streets are best navigated by walking.
  • Accommodation: Mardin offers a range of accommodation options from luxurious boutique hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Staying in the old city provides a unique experience with stunning views of the Mesopotamian plains.

Experience the rich tapestry of history, culture, and contemporary art in Mardin. The 6th Mardin Biennial is an event not to be missed.

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