The Mahalla Festival 2021
- Karolina Pawliszak
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The Mahalla Festival 2021 took place titled Murmuration from 8 to 25 September. The main venue of the festival was Yeldegirmeni Sanat Merkezi, located on the Asian (Anatolian) side of Istanbul – Kadıköy.
Within the framework of the main concept – the Murmuration, both international and local artists have come together to create art works for the festival.
Due to new safety and hygiene regulations introduced by the Turkish authorities, along with precautions, around 50 people visited the venues of the festival every day. In total, 1500 people joined various events and exhibitions.
Turkey based artist initiative subsqu created a participatory space under the title from where to where?. A world map was presented in an original way – upside down. The visualization showed the migration movements of the families of a certain group: the artists, their friends and the audience. As part of the exhibition, anyone interested could mark their personal migration route on a map.
Lot’s of the works were interactive. Yeldeğirmeni based American artists Nora Byrne produced 70 Portraits of Istanbulites following a chain of contacts she build up with her drawing activities. The installation in the exhibition space also visually represented “Murmuration” as a metaphor for solidarity and collaborative activity.
One of the highlights of the Mahalla Festival 2021 was the concert titled All Jewish by the guitar virtuoso – Lucian Plessner. The musician took a tour through Jewish music from the medieval Spain to the present. The event was organised in cooperation with the Yeldeğirmeni Sanat Merkezi and the German Consulate General in Istanbul in the frame of 1700 years of Jewish history in Germany.
The interactive performance by Barbara Eichhorn titled My Hand is Your Hand is My Hand was another significant moment of the festival. Together with the involvement of the audience, she created a piece of an art, within the frame of the collective social practice.
The closing event of this year’s Mahalla Festival was the presentation of the first mobile state – Mobilistan in Istanbul. The founders – Manaf Halbouni and Christian Manss, declared the first mobile state in the limited space of a vehicle in Berlin in September 15. The rolling state was travelling from Berlin to Istanbul on a tour similar to current refugee routes. The idea of this art project is connected to the questions of mobility, limited territory, recognition, exclusion, freedom of travel and the desire to belong. This art project was supported by the Allianz Kulturstiftung and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e. V. The life stream of the arriving at Otonom in Istanbul on September 24 can be watch on our facebook site.
Some events were live streamed as online events through our social media channels, e.g.
- Mobius Art Tour by Tuba Kocakaya,
- My Hand is Your Hand is My Hand by Barbara Eichhorn,
- Perfect to Whom the Entire World is a Foreign Land – a lecture by Prof. Martin Vialon
- Searching Traces, screening of short movies about mobilisation and cultural identity at Wanderlust
- Mobilistan by Manaf Halbouni and Christian Manss
During the festival, we reached a wide audience of 200,000 recipients through our social media channels.
We would like to thank all the artists, the audience, institutions and the festival organisers for their commitment and contribution to the Mahalla Festival 2021,