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Event: Istanbul Design Biennial, a school of schools

Text by CLOT Magazine

On the 22 of September, Istanbul Design Biennial opened its doors to the public, and it will run through to November 4th. The fourth edition of the Biennale is titled “A School of Schools”. It is an attempt from Jan Boelen, the festival’s curator, to go beyond the traditional school-as-institution connotation since everything and everywhere is a school, and every single interaction we have with design is pedagogical.

Accordingly, this year’s biennale emphasises education, learning and exploring the many dimensions and/or notions of design. For six weeks, the festival will be a platform which will bring together more than 100 interdisciplinary practitioners – not only designers but also architects, artists and theoreticians. For this reason, six of the most iconic cultural institutions of the Beyoğlu district will be transformed into schools.

For example, Akbank Sanat will become Unmaking School, where the momentum will develop around the relationship between humans and machines. Arter will be turned into Earth School, where the impact of capitalism on the planet will be discussed and alternative means of harnessing natural resources suggested.

Istanbul Design Biennial will also feature several projects which explore our sense of individual and collective identity in the time of increasing digitalisation. Camillo Oliviera will present An I: Talking to My Digital Self, AI embodied avatar, a “tool for self-growth”, which will, during the festival, learn and develop a personalised dictionary and will also eventually be able to offer advice.

Alix Gallet will exhibit a series of fake noses and ears, with which she is investigating rapidly growing body-recognition software. Body is the point of departure also for Bora Hong, who will present the Cosmetic Surgery Kingdom, where she parallels the plastic surgery phenomenon with design in general.

Perhaps best known to CLOT Magazine readers among festival participants is Pinar Yoldas. With her praxis framed in genetic and bodily modifications versus contemporary culture, she questions modifications’ status between universal and culturally influenced. Yoldas is exhibiting Genetically Modified Generation (Designer Babies), with nine characters, all genetically altered to express the desired traits, from beauty and fitness to empathy, popularity and wealth.

(Photo courtesy of Istanbul Design Biennale)
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