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Belated victory of women in Art world by Ozge Esirgen in the Cyprus Observer (17 November 2006)

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The Cyprus Observer

Belated victory of women in Art world


By Ozge Esirgen / Istanbul

It is almost out of question for an art-lover not to be tempted to visit the 51st International Venice Biennale, as the brilliant posters in the exhibition, which one may come across several times a day, are almost everywhere in Istanbul. The exhibition, hosted by the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, includes a particular selection from the Biennale that tends to carry the prints of the past and the seeds of the future. The selection is characterised as a radical interpretation with an overall message of rebellion that questions the place of the individual, especially the place of women, within the globalising process.
The relationship between Modern art and women is emphasised by the selections as well as by the fact that for the first time in its history, the Biennale has female curators. Quoting one of the co-curators of the exhibition, Rosa Martinez, who at the same time is the chief curator of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: "The 2005 edition of the Venice Biennale had a very special character in the long history of the event: after one hundred and ten years of male directors, two women were appointed for the first time to curate the 51st International exhibition."

Feminist Art
Within this context, Turkish artist Semiha Berksoy's self-portraits have a place in the exhibition. Berksoy, in addition to being an unusual painter, was the first female soprano to take the lead in the first Turkish opera and the first Turkish diva on a European opera stage. Some other most appealing works are definitely those by Regina Jose Galindo, Joana Vasconcelos and Guerrilla Girls. Galindo, who won the Golden Lion award for the best young artist at the Biennale, is fascinating with her work 'Who Can Remove the Footprints?', which is a video of the artist's walk from the Court of Constitutionality to the National Palace of Guatemala, carrying a sink filled with human blood, which she used to leave a trail of her own footprints in memory of the victims of the wars in Guatemala City. Vasconcelos appears with her work 'The Bride', an enormous chandelier consisting of twenty-five thousand tampons instead of crystals, examining the bride's place in the politics of desire. Guerrilla Girls, with 'The Future for Turkish Women Artists', emphasise feminist art with a brilliant sense of humour. 'The Swansong' by a group of artists called The Centre of Attention is also worth noting with its experimental approach. 'The Swansong' welcomes its audience to design their own funeral, giving the visitor who chooses to be a participant the chance to select a song and lay on a stand, performing their death before the eyes of other visitors while the selected song is played loudly as the funeral march.