Third Sinop Biennial seeking ‘Hidden Memories, Lost Traces’

We love cities that have manifest and hidden sides to them. It is how we see and what we want to get from a city that brings us closer to it. Just like people, cities have memories to be dug, too. And, just as Saul Bellow’s character whispers to his customers, “memory is life.” The third edition of the Sinopale takes off in pursuit of memory and traces. With its theme “Hidden Memories, Lost Traces,” the biennial’s conceptual framework is “to perceive the city’s memory by what is seen and unseen and to enable passing the information belonging to this living space to the future.”

The curators of the Sinop Biennial are T. Melih Görgün, Beral Madra, Vittorio Urbani, Nike Baetzner, Rana Öztürk, Branko Franceshi, Vaari Claffey and Hande Sağlam. The venues of the biennial are the historical Sinop Prison, the Lonca Kapısı, the Dr. Rıza Nur Public City Library, the Ülgen Cutter Boat House, the Gerze City Theater and the Sinop Science and Art Center. The biennial opened on Saturday and will remain on display until Sept. 4.

Sinopale, which borrowed the title of a book by French philosopher Michel Foucault to make the previous edition’s theme the “New Order of Things,” this year relies on Italo Calvino and takes inspiration from the author’s “Invisible Cities.” In this area that has historically been a transition area, Sinopale attempts to handle secret memoirs and lost traces in the city by drawing attention to what is said and left unsaid.

About 30 artists are taking part in the biennial this year. Among them are Ayhan and Bahar Enşici, Maria Ikonomopoulou, Karena Johnson, Hülya Karakaş, Ludwig Kittinger, Georg Klein, Rean Koen, Sıtkı Kösemen, Ronan McCrea, Anne Metzen, Daniele Pezzi, Jelena Vasiljev, Rhona Byrne, Declan Clarke, Işıl Eğrikavuk, Gülsün Karamustafa, Sean Lynch, Fiona Marron, Bea McMahon, Ferhat Özgür, Sarah Pierce and Tayfun Serttaş. The participating artists produce their artworks in pursuit of secret memoirs and lost traces.

Sinopale’s art director, Görgün, said art must not gather in central cities like İstanbul but must spread across the country. While explaining that there has been an evident change following the first edition of the Sinop Biennial, Görgün said, “[After the first Sinop Biennial] we began to deal with the education of children and to build up an infrastructure. Volunteers working with us attended our previous workshops. Their parents and shopkeepers in the city have also begun to have aesthetic concerns. They are working to make a better living space. These are the contributions of the biennial.

Görgün also said they highlighted the international aspect of the biennial this year. “We feature more foreign artists because the biennial has an international aspect. There are also artists from Sinop. Our biennial attracts attention in İstanbul art circles and in the international arena. What attracts them is the biennial being beyond the center. The Sinop Biennial is the second-best-known biennial in Turkey after the International İstanbul Biennial. Art must not gather in the center.”

Activities as part of Sinopale

A long list of events has been prepared as part of the third Sinopale. These include the “Gotland Pedagogical Art Seminar” by Sonja Tanrısever, the musical therapy workshop “My Giant Symphony Within II” by Renan Koen, a dance workshop by Ziya Azazi, the theater workshop “Getting Lost… Hidden Faces…” by Hülya Karakaş at the Gerze City Theater, a stage workshop by Karena Johnson, the “Trace of Voice -- Engin Aksan Archive Exhibition” curated by Hande Sağlam, the workshop “Forgotten Children Games in Sinop” by Ayhan and Bahar Enşici and the “Shelved Temporarily” exhibition by Rana Öztürk and Vaari Claffey.

Musa İğrek, İstanbul

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