ISIS Threat Cancels Mardin Biennial

The third edition of the Mardin Biennial has been postponed indefinitely due to the impending threat that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) poses to the region the exhibition was intended to highlight, organizers have announced in a statement on the biennial’s website. Titled “Mythologies,” the biennial was scheduled to open this Friday, October 17th and run for one month.

Citing threats to the city of Kobane, which has for the past week been on the verge of collapse to ISIS forces and is a key city for the region’s Kurdish minority, Mardin Biennial organizers said:

We would have liked to carry out the 3rd International Mardin Biennial as originally planned, but we know that in order for the voice of Kobanê to be heard, we need to go quiet and make all necessary efforts for its voice to be heard more. We are not afraid. On the contrary, we are hopeful that Kobanê’s voice will indeed be heard.

They explain that the biennial will take place in “the near future” and highlight the very struggle currently unfolding along the Turkish-Syrian boarder. The conflict has brought back to the fore long-held tensions between the Kurdish population and the Turkish government (see “Turkish Inaction on ISIS Spurs Destruction of Artifacts“). Mardin, the Turkish city where the biennial was scheduled to take place is approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) away from Kobane and is thus not under imminent threat itself. However, organizers suggest that a refocusing of their energies was needed to respond to the dire circumstances in the region.

Organizers remain hopeful for the region’s future at large, however. “We knew from times long past that when some had wrought destruction in Mesopotamia, others had built the Tower of Babylon,” they write. “When some had crushed other peoples along with their dreams and homes, others were occupied with inventing the writing system and painting mythological figures on the walls of magestic temples.”

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