The organization behind the Istanbul Design Biennial, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), was sharp to add design to its festivals (which start
Online PR News – 22-May-2015 – PE – The projects represent a broad range of possible outcomes, from adding human rights to architects' codes of ethics to expanding waterfronts via small interventions to farming one's own food to repurposing surplus military accessories into everyday wear. Ryan and her co-curator, Meredith Carruthers, a Montreal-based artist and curator, worked with a majority of the selected teams to develop their concepts specifically for the biennial, sifting the miscellany into five "departments": Personal, Norms and Standards, Resource, Civic Relations, and Broadcast.Floor plan for the biennialFloor plan for the biennialIstanbul architecture firm Superpool designed the exhibition, which took over the Galata Greek Primary School, a grand neoclassical building in the city's historic core. The designers cleaved the building vertically into two sections, using a simple fabric scrim to divide each floor and the double stairwell, directing traffic up on one half and down the other. This simple move helped eliminate some of the monotony that can come with circulating whole floors at once. But Superpool's most memorable gesture is the ground-floor Hub, an inviting space designed to host workshops, talks, and informal socializing. The centerpiece is a horseshoe-shaped block sculpted from dense cork, with careful cuts that define backs and seats. Three large dome-shaped chandeliers—cork tiles attached to plywood ribs—create a grand canopy over the seating, encouraging crowds to huddle.The exhibition starts with the question of self, of personal identity and beliefs—inextricable from the idea of the manifesto, which demands personal commitment. In the Personal Department, British artist Kristina Cranfeld's Ownership of the Face stands out as a provocative collection of "speculative accessories," masks, and other peculiar devices that allow wearers to distort or conceal their facial features. In an age of ubiquitous surveillance and facial recognition technology—being developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Facebook alike—Cranfeld's project argues for our ability to maintain "authority over our basic tools of communication": our expressions. Might governments someday use protestors' face scans to build dossiers on political activists or suspected terrorists? Though Cranfeld's images may appear absurdist, her project suggests the need to guard against potential encroachments on privacy and civil liberties.Image from Kristina Cranfeld's Ownership of the Face exhibitTomas Valenzuela BlejerImage from Kristina Cranfeld's Ownership of the Face exhibitCranfeld's Ownership of the Face exhibitSahir Ugur ErenCranfeld's Ownership of the Face exhibitWith a similar eye to the future, The New Survivalism exhibit, by Chicago industrial designers Jessica Charlesworth and Tim Parsons, presents five variations on the "bug-out bag," emergency kits that take into account "emotional and physical needs" while "imagining building blocks for a new society." Citing Ray Bradbury as an influence, Charlesworth and Parsons adopt his friendly sci-fi tone in their kit descriptions, digging into the notion of survivalism and disaster preparedness. The Re-Wilder kit is designed for those prepared to return to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle; the SETI Reserves Member is equipped with satellite instruments to contribute to the search for "cosmic companions"; while the Biophotovoltaics Hactivist has all the ingredients necessary to convert grass into energy. By couching the subject in droll storytelling, the designers remove practicality as a concern, urging questions such as: What does "crisis" or "worst-case scenario" mean to each of us? What should we protect, besides ourselves? Our culture? Our ability to make it into the next future?