In an ever increasingly interconnected world, our identity can suffer from a lack of strong direction. What you see in Tokyo is rebranded and skillfully reproduced in the markets of Milan.
In London, you may meet more non-British people on a business visit than people who are of British descent. Globalisation means a French cultural website today happily promotes Chilean poets as it does musicians from Toulouse. And then you see that article being tweeted by Haitians and Syrians.
Britney Spears and Starbucks have both done an enormous amount of excellent cultural promotion for the United States of America throughout the world. Ai Wei Wei is an inspiring and daring artistic hero whose art demands great respect. His personal life journey is such that it invokes deeply moving sentiments. The fact that he is a citizen of China makes no difference. He belongs to all of us. He is our artist. We support him wholeheartedly. The same can be said of Jafar Panahi.
We all felt extreme joy when Tunisians and Egyptians challenged their heads of state and eventually deposed them. We did not need to feel Arab or hold Arab citizenship to understand their pain. The impact of the power of the Internet has given the aforementioned Arab nations gigantic strength and encouragement.
What does it mean therefore to carry passports today? Is the passport essentially a log in and password to the wider world as they are to enter Facebook where citizens from every country connect, meet, argue and fall in love. And in some cases start divorce proceedings. The need for visas seem harsh and at times, insulting. But bureaucracy wins almost always.
What do festivals offer a city? Can it give a city a strong cultural identity? It most certainly can. It provides a diverse platform which can help shape the city's cultural landscape while giving birth to its future generation of artists -- whatever the art form. A cultural festival can provoke great reaction among its attendees. Istancool is a festival that hopes to do exactly that.
Thought-provoking and stimulating. The mission is to bring both local and international creative minds to Turkish audiences for a programme that does not understand citizenship, passport, themes, race, gender or visa. What it does understand is the importance of maintaining one's creative and cultural identity independently without fear or shame.
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