Cultural Exchange via Internet

Cultural Exchange via Internet – Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October – 4 December, 1998

Q: Can the Internet help to overcome the dichotomy between curated and curating cultures?

A: Since 1986 I have been witnessing and experiencing the confrontation of a peripheral metropole (Istanbul) with the international art scene. Currently I am witnessing that due to the internet “Istanbul” is more and more in the agenda of the world intellectuals. Ten years ago the confrontation has started with inviting important artists and curators to exhibit in inspiring historical spaces and letting them to introduce the magnificient art works of the last two decades to Istanbul audiences. Two Western curators have organized the Biennale and numerous curators and art critics have visited the city since then. They have met the local artists and invited a few of them to multi-cultural exhibitions all around Europe. This formal interaction seemed not to be enough for an intellectual dialogue between the curated and curating; as the biennale concepts were hastily imposed on the local art scene, as the “famous” artists and critics only spent 36 hours in the city and as the local artists were rapidly exported to serve the requirements of the curator. The real confrotation-that is the discussion between the curated and the curating- has always been avoided. I hope that through internet Non-western centers will be able to overcome the sophistication of the Western curator and the artist. At least now the intellectuals of the curated cultures have a medium to discuss or to announce the sanctions imposed on them by the curating forces. Internet is not a medium for integration or assimilation but for participation, connexion and fusion.
Q: Does the medium contribute to the changing of established value systems?

A: As far as I observe the established value systems in the centers are already being reconstructed as they have started to blacken the horizons of the art. Artists, curators, critics who have been suffering under institutional conservatisms, art market speculations, burocratic manipulations were looking to acquire skills to bypass them. Internet environment has prepared the way to do so and created new kind of independency and freedom. Internet gives specially the young artists and critics to put their inventions, ideas, projects and concepts into the idea-market without being humiliated by formalities and conformisms. First of all psychological confrontations and confusions are being dissolved. I worked very hard to make myself and my art center known in the international art scene and to break through the prejudices of Western institutions; the process has put on speed as soon as I had a web-site. Since I am involved in internet I feel that I have a new platform under my feet; it not only helps me to get over the omnipotence of the art lords, but also helps me to get over the athropy of the local art scene.
Q: Does the Internet as dissolution of geographical borders support a multicentric view of art, and thereby the overcoming of the center-periphery & paradigm.

A: On theoretical and virtual basis the geographical borders are dissolved and a multi-centric art appreciation is being built; but on the practical level we still have to cope up with the remnants/fragments of radical ideologies, with the established regulations and laws. We may built up a perfect dialogue on the internet, but we may not achieve concrete results. Internet discussions have revealed the opinion of the periphery on the centers (or vice-versa)-as we have witnessed during documenta x or 47th venice biennale-but it did not influence the statements and choice of the curators. Even the printed media did not alter its market oriented position. The only consolation is that one can plant seeds of doubt via internet. Now, internet is becoming omnipresent for everybody; nobody can ignore it!
Q: What sort of cultural interactions between local and translocal agents exist on the Internet?

A: Through internet local events are being registered into the map of translocal events even if they donât seem to be significant; that means, secondary cultural environments are due to be recognized or unexpected details enter into the mega-picture. If there is a selection within the art world; the ranges of selection will be expanded.
Q: What experience has been made with culture-overlapping Internet projects, brought into existence through the initiative or with the definitive participation of African, Asian or Latin American artists.

A: I think there are experiences made through internet projects, but these are still on the information basis and ineffective within the current affairs of the art scenes. The collectors are not looking to internet to buy valuable art works but they still rely on dealers and gallerists; the curators are not searching for artists in the internet but going to exhibitions, studios and asking friend about their newest discoveries. In the meantime internet reality is left to African, Asian and Latin American artists, as they are still not in the agenda of the art-lords and art-castles!

Q: What has been genuinely useful till now in building cultural networks on the Internet?

A: I think in the near future artists and curators will have a substantial and continuous connexion through internet; the curator will be able to observe the production process of the artistâs work and the artist will be able to follow the research and interpretations of the curator. In this way the parties will overcome the “undispensable” fabrication quality which often occurs in the present exhibitions and the accompanying “disastrous” misinterpretations of the work. To my opinion this interaction will be the most useful cultural network presented by internet. As we can think about this kind of interaction it might already be present.