Mardin, Turkey (photo by Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia)

A Turkish biennial close to the Syrian border has been postponed due to the Islamic State’s ongoing assault on the nearby town of Kobani, The Art Newspaper (TAN) reported. The Mardin Biennial’s organizers announced the cancellation in a statement posted on their website in Turkish, adding, in a passage translated by TAN: “We are not afraid. On the contrary, we are hopeful that [the Syrian town of] Kobani’s voice will indeed be heard.” Launched in 2010 and set in the southeastern city of Mardin, the biennal, this year themed “Mythologies,” was set to host the international artists Stuart Brisley, Iman Issa, Ursula Mayer, and Pedro Torres, among others.

The advance last week of the Islamic State militia on the border town of Kobani, Syria, has alarmed Turkish and Kurdish officials, as American-led airstrikes failed to mitigate the assault. “We still have thousands of civilians inside Kobani who might be massacred if ISIS takes the city,” a Kurdish official told the New York Times last week, while related Kurdish protests took place inside Turkey, the latest turn in longstanding tensions between the country’s government and its largest ethnic minority. Secretary of State John Kerry has insisted that the town is not of vital importance to the US mission against IS. “As horrific as it is to watch in real time what is happening in Kobani … you have to step back and understand the strategic objective,” Kerry said during a Washington news conference, according to the Times. Over 186,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey in recent weeks, the paper reported on October 8.

The Mardin Biennial was scheduled to open on October 17 and run for a month.

Mostafa Heddaya

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.