Issue #33-34, 2009

EVO in Istanbul. A Proposal for the 11th Istanbul Biennial, 2009
Pedro Lasch

A Proposal for the 11th Istanbul Biennial, 2009. Curators: WHW (What, How & for Whom)

EVO IN ISTANBUL begins with simple conceptual gesture that will hopefully echo with the curatorial premise of “What Keeps Mankind Alive”. If materialized, it would produce a direct engagement with current political debates across an international left in its mainstream and underground ranges, and also critically confront recent contemporary art discourses seeking to depoliticize socially engaged cultural practice.

At its most basic level EVO IN ISTANBUL would be a co-production of the artist, the curators, the staff of the Biennial, and other interested indivuals working to create an official visit to the Istanbul Biennial by Evo Morales – president of Bolivia. The visit would need to be at least two days long, but could of course be longer. It would include the standard ceremonial events associated with such a presidential visit: a guided tour of the Biennial, speeches, meetings with local and international politicians, media engagements, interviews, and so on. This superficial appearance of normalcy, however, would be layered with subtle and less subtle experiments in contemporary political theater, interventionist actions, and other gestures agreed on and developed by the collaborators, including President Morales. The very topics and questions set forth by the curators and their Brechtian framework, the accompanying ideological and aesthetic cracks exposed in the Biennial as an institution, as well as the political context provided by the city of Istanbul as it reverberates with its Bolivian guest, would become the very medium and content of this unique presidential visit.

While all official documents, dialogues, exchanges, and actions related to President Morales’ visit would develop under the direction or in consultation with the artist, Pedro Lasch, participating publics at specific venues may not always be aware that the event has been staged through an art biennial. This would be less due to intentional deception or misrepresentation, and better explained by a desire to not distract producers and participants from the direct political dimension of the visit.

Any standard biennial funds provided for the execution of art work, as well as any additional funds that may be raised, will be put to the exclusive use of bringing EVO to Istanbul and creating as wide as possible a range of dialogues around his ideas and the struggles he may represent within, but mostly outside a restricted art context.


Pedro Lasch sees his role as an artist, educator, and cultural producer as a cohesive whole, which develops within specific social situations and exists within and outside of conven­tional art settings. A preoccupation with the theory and practice of a socially engaged art has led him to the formulation of an aesthetics based on public interventions, social inter­ac­tions, games, and temporal rearrangements. Born and raised in Mexico City, since 1994, he divides his time between Durham (NC), where he teaches art, art theory, and visual studies at Duke University, and New York (NY), where he leads on-going projects with immigrant communities and art collectives, such as 16 Beaver Group. He is a former Duke Latino/a Studies Director and present Community Liaison. His solo exhibitions include Open Routines (Queens Museum of Art, 2006) and Black Mirror (Nasher Museum of Art, 2008); he has also participated in group exhibitions at Baltimore Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, MASS MoCA (USA), Royal College of Art (UK), Centro Nacional de las Artes (Mexico), The Singapore Art Museum (Singapore), and The Gwangju Biennial (South Korea), among others.