Troya Culture Association (CABININ – Çanakkale Biennial Initiative) is receiving grant support from our Culture & Arts Fund for its Çanakkale Cultural Actors Network project, which will bring together cultural actors, experts and culture and arts initiatives in Çanakkale and will create a network to increase communication and cooperation between these groups.
Read below our interview:
Troya Culture Association (CABININ – Çanakkale Biennial Initiative) is receiving a grant from our Foundation for the first time in the 2022 period of the Culture & Arts Fund. Can you tell us about the purpose of your association and your activities?
CABININ has been operating in Çanakkale since 2006 as a civil initiative organised horizontally by people from different professions who concentrate on contemporary art and culture, with a particular focus on the Çanakkale Biennial. The conceptual frameworks created for the Çanakkale Biennial are knotted in the intersections of Çanakkale’s values with current issues on a global scale. By inviting artists and art experts from different parts of the world to Çanakkale, we open a space for new and original productions. We brought the buildings that constitute Çanakkale’s unique cultural heritage to the city’s agenda through events and exhibitions. The Er Hammam (now Çanakkale Ceramic Museum), the Old Armenian Church, the Old Tobacco Warehouse (now Korfmann Library), the abandoned buildings in the Fevzipaşa Neighbourhood, the Çanakkale promenade, the marina, various private buildings, the old bus station, and the Public Garden are examples of the exhibition spaces we use.
Since 2014, Çanakkale Biennial has been a member of the International Biennial Association (IBA), which brings together over 200 art biennials from around the world and is on the global list of the Biennial Foundation. In addition, CABININ was awarded the Corporate Honour Award at the Istanbul TÜYAP Artist International Art Fair in 2015, and in 2020, it was awarded the Periodical Events Award at the Anatolia Awards organised by the Baksı Culture and Arts Foundation. Finally, CABININ received the UCLG – MEXICO CITY – CULTURE 21 International Award “Best Practices 2022”.
By inviting artists and art experts from different parts of the world to Çanakkale, we open a space for new and original productions.
Representing Çanakkale internationally, contributing to the city’s contemporary identity and nurturing its cultural ecosystem, the Biennial continues its activities even stronger with the support of various culture and arts organisations. In addition to the Çanakkale Biennial, CABININ has developed its capacity with the Troya Culture Association established in 2012 and MAHAL Art opened in 2013. It has also expanded its projects on different subjects such as design, archaeology, tourism, urban history, gastronomy, education, and ecology.
How did the idea of the Çanakkale Biennial, which you first realised in 2008, come about? Can you tell us about the changes the Biennial has experienced over the years and its contributions to the culture and art life in Çanakkale?
The first attempt at the Biennial took place in 2007 when CABININ organised an exhibition titled Border Line, which was widely attended and spread throughout the city. In this first attempt to explore the possibilities of organising an event of this scale in Çanakkale, both the press and local stakeholders were very warm to the idea of a Biennial. A year later, the Çanakkale Biennial was launched. Çanakkale is suitable for the Biennial with its multicultural public spaces and historical, cultural and natural values. CABININ’s main objective was to position Çanakkale as a crucial centre in the Mediterranean cultural ecosystem. We believe that the Biennial and cultural projects of the Troya Culture Association have done their part in line with this vision. On the other hand, initiatives such as the opening of the Troy Museum also contribute to these efforts.
On the other hand, since its inception, the Çanakkale Biennial has continued to develop social programmes that actively engage different segments of society in interaction with contemporary art production. The social programmes for children, youth, women, and people with disabilities aim to ensure that these groups interact with contemporary art and that their demands and productions are shared with wider audiences.
Finally, we should also mention our contributions to the city’s architectural heritage. Many buildings that have come to the fore thanks to the Biennial exhibitions have been restored and gained new cultural functions. The old Er Hammam and the old tobacco warehouse, and the revitalisation of the abandoned Acorn Warehouses in the area where MAHAL is located are just some examples.
Representing Çanakkale internationally, contributing to the city’s contemporary identity and nurturing its cultural ecosystem, the Biennial continues its activities even stronger with the support of various culture and arts organisations.
You launched the 8th Çanakkale Biennial, titled How do we work together? on 1 October. Can you tell us about the purpose of this year’s Biennial?
The 8th Çanakkale Biennial, together with nearly 40 artists and six artist initiatives it has invited, aimed to investigate the connections between human-human, human-nature, human-animal, animal-animal and all living and non-living structures through very fundamental questions such as “How do we produce together?”, “How do we live together?”, “How do we work together?”. While addressing the concepts of hospitality, friendship, cooperation, labour, responsibility, justice, forgiveness, memory, mourning and joy, the exhibition also focuses on the paradoxes and impossibilities that haunt the necessity of living together. The Biennial opened its doors on 1 October and continued until 5 November with exhibitions in 11 venues as well as panels, workshops, film screenings and parallel events.
Firstly, since we focused on working together, we invited AVTO from Istanbul, Monitor Izmir, ARE Projects from Antalya, Ka Atölye from Ankara, Garp Sessions from Çanakkale, and the independent Giungla Festival from Lucca, Italy. Each of them participated in exhibitions and projects that reflect their production and working practices as well as their perspectives on art in spaces reflecting Çanakkale’s unique urban heritage.
The second component of the Biennial was the main exhibitions spread across different venues. Adrian Melis, Berfin Erdoğan & Yağmur Uyanık, Can Altay, Forensic Architecture, Goshka Macuga, Guido van der Werve, Jasmina Cibic, Johanna Billing, İhsan Oturmak, Maider López, Mariana Vassileva, Merve Şendil, Mircea Cantor, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Pilvi Takala, Pravdoliub Ivanov, Robert Montgomery, Serge Najjar and Zeren Göktan participated with works approaching the questions posed by the Biennial from different angles.
CABININ’s main objective was to position Çanakkale as a crucial centre in the Mediterranean cultural ecosystem. We believe that the Biennial and cultural projects of the Troya Culture Association have done their part in line with this vision.
Maider Lopez, who brought his new project Movable Garden to Çanakkale; Mircea Cantor, who traces people’s unique paths in urban parks; Özlem Günyol and Mustafa Kunt with their climbing wall made of public sculpture pedestals; Jasmina Cibic, who examines the journey of European identity through the allegory of the gift; and Goshka Macuga, with her early work approaching historical memory through collage, met the audience at MAHAL. In theFeHAN2, different perspectives on the practices of children and young people working and producing together were reflected. Last but not least, İhsan Oturmak’s silent piles watching people drowning and Forensic Architecture’s archived map of pushbacks of migrants in the North Aegean reminded us of when we agreed to ignore.
The selection at Çanakkale House of Çanakkale Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ÇTSO) emphasises the power of solitude as well as togetherness: Guido ven der Werde’s one-hour epic journey, Serge Najjar’s images of workers, Adrian Melis’s office worker, Pravdoliub Ivanov’s one-person staircase, refer to both solitude and the mechanisms that the togetherness of these singularities makes operational. Robert Montgomery’s work on the facade of Dardanel Sports Facilities is a two-line love poem embroidered on the wall, bringing the Çanakkale Biennial to the public space.
The Troy Museum hosted a special biennial exhibition this year, as it has been doing since 2018. A continuation of CABININ’s sensitivity towards the memory and historical processes of art, the Alparslan Baloğlu exhibition was curated by Azra Tüzünoğlu. The main exhibitions ended on 5 November, but as in our previous editions, projects and events will continue until spring 2023.
We know that the pandemic and the economic crisis have seriously affected the field of culture and arts. Can you tell us about your related observations and experiences?
Çanakkale city centre has an economic structure dominated by the service sector and developed with cultural tourism in the region. Surely, the pandemic has greatly affected the city’s economy. Since culture and arts events and tourism activities were banned during the pandemic, the situation experienced across Turkey was also effective in Çanakkale. We can say that people living in Çanakkale have the habit of using public spaces such as parks, beaches, tea gardens, etc. As such, the COVID-19 restrictions had a very negative impact on the general mood of the city.
Since its inception, the Çanakkale Biennial has continued to develop social programmes that actively engage different segments of society in interaction with contemporary art production.
Artists were affected by this process, but the pandemic also had the following effect. For example, artists who design and produce ceramics, which is Çanakkale’s most essential cultural industry, as well as young artists and designers, started to use online platforms to share their productions. This has been advantageous for designers and artists, especially economically. Similarly, artists and designers became acquainted with digital exhibitions. The local government tried to support local artists with live concerts. In a way, we can say that everyone developed alternatives to survive and continue production.
With our grant support, you will realise the Çanakkale Cultural Actors Network project. Can you tell us about the purpose and activities of the project?
The Çanakkale Cultural Actors Network is a project to develop infrastructure in the field of arts and civil society in Çanakkale, based on the questions posed by the 8th Çanakkale Biennial. With this project, we aim to create a network focused on communication and cooperation between cultural actors, experts, and culture and arts initiatives in Çanakkale. Meetings and interviews will be conducted to determine the similarities and differences between the approaches, working areas, needs and productions of these actors. It is planned that Çanakkale’s cultural ecosystem will establish functional communication and develop collaborations with the large-scale meetings to be organised afterwards.
As we all know, for the last 5-6 years, and especially with the pandemic, there has been a serious internal migration to cities like Çanakkale. Professionals active in the culture and creative industries have settled in Çanakkale. We meet and encounter these people often through our art centre and projects. We anticipate that these creative individuals will contribute to the development of Çanakkale’s potential as a city of culture.
First of all, we believe it is necessary to introduce cultural actors to the civil society tradition of Çanakkale, its history, and its potential as a meeting place of Anatolian, Aegean and Balkan cultures and that there is a need for a bridge of communication and cooperation. Our project starts with a series of research and feasibility studies to make cultural actors visible and ensure their relations with the local community. In the meetings that will follow, we will try to find answers to the questions “How do we work together?”, “How do we produce together?”, “How do we live together?”, and prepare a road map inspired by the artistic approaches brought together by the 8th Çanakkale Biennial.
About Troya Culture Association – CABININ Çanakkale Biennial Initiative
Operating in Çanakkale, CABININ aims to bring together different segments of society with contemporary art, to increase the participation and productivity of disadvantaged groups in social life through art-oriented activities and trainings, to promote the unique, historical, natural and cultural values of Çanakkale on an international scale, and to create international communication and cooperation networks for this purpose.