The notion of the public domain as a political forum was the focal point of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. This highly contested concept was served as a matrix to generate ideas and develop practices that question contemporary forms of democracy, challenge current models of spatio-economic politics, problematize the given concepts of civilization and barbarity as standardized positions and languages and, above all, unfold the role of contemporary art as an agent that both makes and unmakes what is considered public.
The idea of the public domain has diverse historic, philosophical, theoretical and geo-political roots and definitions. No matter how many interpretations exist, they are fueled by questions of democracy,related to equality, civic rights and political debate. From the existence of an artwork to the freedom of social media and the designation of urban spaces as public, the notion of public domain can cover a vast area where social engagement and political public debate are possible. It is this potentiality of public domain discourse that the exhibition aims to articulate.The title of this edition of the Istanbul Biennial, "Mom, am I barbarian?", is a quote from the Turkish poet Lale Müdür's book of the same title.