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Mahalla Festival Palimpsest


Parallel to the 17th Istanbul Art Biennial, Diyalog was organizing the Mahalla Festival under the theme Palimpsest between September 1 and September 10.

This year, Mahalla brought together 38 artists from 13 countries to work together in Istanbul, creating international participation that went far beyond that. The main venue was the former Greek Primary School in Kurtuluş, Istanbul.

The Palimpsest, our theme, implied ambiguity, multilingualism, interdisciplinary, exploration, re-design, upcycling, interactivity and, above all, togetherness.

The Mahalla Festival 2022 was supported by the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria – Art, Culture, Civil Service and Sport; Art Council Malta, Avusturya Kültür Ofisi Istanbul, Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation Istanbul, Kingdom of Netherlands and Civil Düşün Ankara.

The Festival took also place in cooperation with the MagiC Carpets Network, a Creative Europe program uniting 16 European cultural organizations that create opportunities for emerging artists to embark on journeys to unknown lands and to create, together with local artists and local communities, new works that highlight local specificities.

Three emerging artists from the MagiC Carpets network had a one-month residency in Istanbul and participated with new works they created in Istanbul into the Mahalla Festival: Ona Juciute nominated by the Kaunas Biennial; Filippo Riniolo nominated by Latitudo Art Projects in Rome, and Elena Urucatu nominated by META Cultural Foundation in Budapest.

Ilayda Tuncay was the local emerging curator who supported these three artists to implement their works into the Mahalla Festival and communicate with local communities and artists.

Three artists from Austria – Barbara Eichhorn, Anna Khodorkovskaya and Joanna Zabielska – created a mobile sculpture out of leftovers that they found in the streets in an interactive performance with the community in Kurtuluş under the title: So Far Till Now – Sofa(R) on the Way.

The Turkish artist Alper Şen created a video under the title On Unlearning Words and Things in the frame and on the occasion of the interactive workshop So Far Till Now – Sofa(R) on the Way that reflected the quarter and his personal view of the performance of the Austrian artists.

The Maltese artist Aaron Bezzina participated into the Mahalla Festival with a site-specific sculpture-based installation with the title Palimpsest of Power. His participation into the Mahalla Festival 2022 was supported by the Art Council Malta. He spent one month as artist in residence in Istanbul to prepare this installation at the Greek School in Kurtuluş, Istanbul.

Most artists produced side specific works in the historical building. Even blackboards in classrooms were part of the installations.

For the opening of the festival the Istanbul street band Fungistanbul was performing. Fungistanbul is a trio that plays with instruments made from waste materials. Roni Aran, Serhat Ayebe and Herman Artuç wanted to create awareness about the dangers of climate change, and nowadays they’re inspiring people with their music to rediscover the natural order of life.

These are not all but some of the highlights of the festival.

Participating Artists

Elçin Acun, Anet Sandra Açıkgöz, Esin Aykanat Avci, Dilruba Balak, Sami Baruh, Aaron Bezzina, Evin Buluttekin, Mehmet Ali Boran, Thomas Büsch, Nora Byrne, Sevde Diker, Barbara Eichhorn, Elvan Ekren, Pınar Derin Gençer, İlhami Tunç Gencer, Alfred Graf, Meryem Güldürdak, Gülce Özen Gürkan, Talin Gülen Schenk, Roua Jafar, Ona Juciute, Yasemin Kalaycı, Ekin Keser, Anna Khodorkovskaya, Volkan Kızıltunç, Lara Lee, Oğulcan Yiğit Özdemir, Filippo Riniolo, Alper Şen, Anna Schwarz, Remzi Sever, Gonca Sezer, Mert Çağıl Türkay, Şenay Ulusoy Orhan, Uğur Orhan, Elena Urucatu, Erhan Us, Sema Kahraman Vurucu, Joanna Zabielska.


Thomas Büsch General Secretary diyalog, project managment InEnArt and Filmmaker