This catalogue is a collection of texts published on the occasion of the 11th International Istanbul Biennial in 2009. The Biennial features over 140 projects by 70 artists.

"The title of the 11th Istanbul Biennial - 'What Keeps Mankind Alive?' - is the English translation of the song 'Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?' from The Threepenny Opera, written in 1928 by Bertolt Brecht...(it) thematises the process of the redistribution of ownership within bourgeois society and casts an unforgiving light on a wide range of elements of capitalist ideology. Brecht's assertion in the play that 'a criminal is a bourgeois and a bourgeois is a criminal' remains as resonant and as true as ever, and the parallels between the burgeoning liberal economy's capacity to erode a hitherto existing social consensus in 1928 and the present are striking.

The Biennial's title, 'What Keeps Mankind Alive?' evokes two main subjects, politics and economics, which have grown indistinguishably similar as they have connected and networked all around the globe. At a moment when the ongoing financial crisis has dealt a considerable blow to the legitimacy of that 'new world order' in which we have all been living for the past several decades, undermining its seemingly unquestionable neo-liberal premises, 'What Keeps Mankind Alive?' seeks to rethink the biennial as a meta-device with the potential to facilitate the renewal of critical thinking by extracting thought from the immediate artistic and political context where it takes place." - excerpt from curators' text
Access level


Location code EX.TUR.ISB.2009



Publication/Creation date


No of pages




No of copies


Content type


Chapter headings
Corporate Support on Art: A vicious or virtuous cycle? - Gokce DERVISOGLU
Life of Galileo - Bertolt BRECHT
This is the 11th International Istanbul Biennial curators' text - What, How & for Whom
On Brecht - Elin DIAMOND
Politics with a Mask: The 'end', the 'origins', and the possibilities of politics - Meltem AHISKA
On Brecht - Fredric JAMESON
Secularism and Politics in Iran - Morad FARHADPOUR
The Post-Communist Robinson - Boris BUDEN
On Brecht: When? - Alain BADIOU
Brecht's Gesture - Mladen DOLAR
Centennial Politics: On Jameson On Brecht On Method - Darko SUVIN
Brecht and Latin America: Refunctioning models - Luis Ignacio GARCIA
'Charity is a Legitimate Part of Our Culture' - Ayse BUGRA
Can the Capitalist World-Economy Survive the Rise of China? - LI Minqi
Harold Pinter on Truth and Responsibility - Harold PINTER
The Politics of Perception: Art and the World Economy - Brian HOLMES, Claire PENTECOST
Reading Lenin with Brecht - Slavoj ZIZEK
Neither With Nor Without You - Süreyyya EVREN
Dense Objects and Sentient Viewings: Contemporary Art Criticism and the Middle East - Omnia EL SHAKRY
On Pirate Jenny - Bob DYLAN
Somewhere Between an Office and a Stage: A Dramaturg leaves her Room, a Curator enters a Play - Eda CUFER
Bloss Menschen or Something that Adorno Forgot and Brecht didn't - Keti CHUKHROV
Exit Strategies (For Keeping Mankind Alive): Challenging Productivism in Contemporary Capitalism and Art - Stephen WRIGHT
What Keeps Mankind Alive? - Bertolt BRECHT, Kurt WEILL
What Keeps Mankind Alive? The Texts: 11th International Istanbul Biennial
Rights statement

In Copyright

What does this mean?

This item is covered by one or more copyrights. It is available for research only or use within Hong Kong’s fair dealing rules. Please do not copy, re-use or reproduce this item without the permission of the copyright holder.

What Keeps Mankind Alive? The Texts: 11th International Istanbul Biennial