ESR 6 Blog February 2021: Bilge Hasdemir

As a curator and a sociologist/field worker, my methodologies are attentive, reflexive and intersectional, which are substantially founded on close dialogue, care and collaboration. However, there could be moments when these methodological orientations, barely resonate with institutional conditions or organizational structures that we are in (part of), which then require constant negotiations within and outside of institutions – and unfortunately sometimes they might remain only as an individual endeavour.
Being attentive to the discomfort and tensions arising in negotiations at multiple scales, I have tried to critically and reflexively explore my positions within the field(s) – which is usually difficult but equally necessary. Simultaneously, I have engaged with the questions around how to develop forms of cooperation and collaboration that can sustain themselves above, below, and beyond institutions. This apparently brought me on to definitions and accounts of ‘imagined’ and ‘real(ized)’, and ‘alternative’ as responses to the ‘institutional’. And I can easily admit here that it was my own struggle with the conditionality of the curatorial practice in the institutional setting and everyday bureaucracy I had gone through, together with their administrative operational processes, that got me here- the journey of a PhD. This is obviously an attempt not to escape from, but rather reflect on – critically and deeply.

Previously living and working in Finland and also in Denmark earlier, I became more interested in the Nordic art scene and the social, economic, political connotations of this regional category, together with the nuanced understandings and particularities of semi-peripheral positions as such in the global art world. I can say that my work and living experience in Northern Europe has provided me with a kind of laboratory to design my PhD research.

My PhD research under the FEINART program is going to analyse local, regional and wider support systems which might benefit the alternative art scene(s) in geographical peripheries like Iceland and beyond. In line with this, it aims to provide an overview of the significance of the independent art spaces and socially engaged art programmes in the cultural ecology of Iceland, and cultural and economic conditions of those independent art spaces in relation with the existing support infrastructures in the Art World(s) and the resources available to them. While the research process has been developing in response to the specificity of and particularities within the local context – Iceland, the critical theoretical perspectives on global art histories, local historiographies and art-geographies have driven the research – indeed along with the legacies of post-/de- colonial studies. My intention with this research is to introduce a more sustainable support structure proposal, which would reinforce artistic and curatorial strategies as regards endurance, continuum and collectivity, in the face of uncertain, fragile and precarious present and future(s).

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