Launching today, the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial explores themes of care and empathy through “designs for more than one.” Curated by Mariana Pestana, the program is divided into three main categories of exploration with The Library of Land and Sea exhibition on view at ARK Kültür in Istanbul, New Civic Rituals hosted at community sites throughout the city, and the Critical Cooking Show series, a digital program of films, performances and lectures that “reimagine the kitchen as a space central to design thinking and production.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in places like the United States and India and the grassroots uprisings for social justice, the biennial theme of empathy is a prescient one. Practices of care, community-driven models of mutual aid, and new imaginaries around relating to one another and the world around us are more urgent than ever. “As a mediator of emotions and feelings, design is presented here as a practice that takes care as its main purpose,” the curators write in their statement on the Empathy Revisited website. “Designers adopt sensitive, diplomatic, sometimes therapeutic functions, with the aim of connecting us with one another but also with the world around us, with other species, with microorganisms, soil, water and even the universe.”

MOLD is proud to launch our newest collaboration, a short film in collaboration with Yardy World, as part of this year’s Istanbul Design Biennial Critical Cooking Show (CCS) series. Your Mouth Has Power (2020) is a continuation of our manifesto launched last year for the Designs for Different Futures exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and currently on view at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The film will debut on October 29th online and will be on view at the Pera Museum in Istanbul through November 15, 2020. The CCS series debuts a new short film each week that explores how “food exchange, preparation and consumption relates to urgent ecological, economic and geopolitical conditions impacting contemporary culture today.” Works from designers including Rain Wu, Laila Gohar (contributor to MOLD 1: Designing for the Microbiome), Nelly Ben-Hayoun and Dirty Furniture Magazine.

Included in The Library of Land and Sea exhibition at ARK Kültür, are works by Pelin Tan and Vivien Sansour (contributors to the forthcoming issue of MOLD 5: Seeds) presenting their project The Care of Seed and Counterspace (contributor to MOLD 2: A Seat at the Table) on Material Histories: Sands, Soils, Recipes and Other Archives. The exhibition focuses on the Mediterranean as a geography and a place that has given rise to complex systems of culture, religion, politics and identity. By showcasing works that invite visitors to rethink the concept of the Mediterranean through research, mapping and tool building, the projects on show interrogate our relationship with land and sea.

Dotted throughout the city of Istanbul, New Civic Rituals take visitors to gardens and playgrounds, cooking spaces and parks. Martí Guixé’s Solar Kitchen, which I first saw on the lawn of the Triennale Museum in Milan during Salone del Mobile, will be cooking up Istanbul street food at the Turkey Design Council, SKREI’s public seed sprouting cabinet made of terracotta pieces will be installed at the Fenerbahçe Park Community Garden, and MOLD friend Orkan Telhan’s sculptural installation will “tell the complex histories of Istanbul community gardens (bostans) from the perspectives of microrganisms at Kuzguncuk Urban Garden.

The exhibitions at ARK Kültür and the Pera Museum will be on view now through November 15th. New Civic Rituals will be at sites through May 2021. The Critical Cooking Show will be online now through March 2021 on YouTube, through e-flux and on the Empathy Revisited broadcast channel.