The festival began this past week on June 1 and will continue through June 10. The annual festival began in 2010 and has grown in activities and participants ever since. Organized in coordination with the Beyoğlu Municipality and the Kültür Kenti Vakfı (Culture City Foundation), the festival aims to create a dialogue among artists from various countries and to create a space where differing artistic perspectives can be explored.
This year attendees are arriving from Asia, Africa, Europe and South and North America. The municipality projects that this year attendees will come from 21 countries, 35 cities and represent 80 ethnicities. The diversity of attendees remains an important factor for the festival’s organizers. Not only does greater cultural representation allow for greater collaboration among artists, but it also enables artists a glimpse into art forms and projects they would never have been exposed to otherwise.
According to Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan, “For 10 days the accumulation of the world’s art found in Beyoğlu will travel to the rest of the world like the wind.” Demircan’s remarks demonstrate the importance of visitors attending the festival who are not affiliated with it. Artists will have a wonderful opportunity to perform or display their works, but this means little without an audience.
The municipality is encouraging both tourists and locals to take advantage of this opportunity to experience truly global art exhibitions. Last year’s festival brought international observers along with artists, including US Consul General in İstanbul Frederic Kilner, South Korean Consul General Hong Jong-Kyoung and German Consul General Brita Wagener.
The International Arts Dialogue Festival was born of the notion that art can dispel differences. Although the mediums, messages and scope of individual works of art may differ, collectively they provide insight into the human condition and have the ability to unify dissimilar groups.
The schedule this year includes daily events at locations throughout Beyoğlu. The main sites of attraction are the visitor hubs of the city such as Galata Square, Taksim Square, İstiklal Street and Cihangir. Visitors to the festival can expect to see a wide variety of exhibitions, including classical art forms and more modern examples such as “plastic art.” Additionally, the municipality has concerts, plays, film screenings, dance performances and a number of artistic events scheduled for the remaining days of the festival.
The kick-off this year took place in Tepebaşı with an inaugural performance by the Beyoğlu Municipal Youth Orchestra. The opening night festivities continued with a musical performance by Café Aman İstanbul accompanied by the dance group Horokos. Café Aman İstanbul plays in the tradition of Ottoman fasıl music and has discernable Turkish, Roma, Armenian and Greek influences in its music.
Demircan has great hopes for the festival’s ability to transcend regional divides. Adopting an artistic tone himself, he states, “Through this event, rivers that flow from here to the cosmos and art’s cultural geography in Beyoğlu will become one in İstanbul.”
More information can be found in Turkish on the municipality’s website: http://www.beyoglu.bel.tr/ (The schedule had not been posted online at the time this article was published.)