Friendly Enemies

By Danila Cahen

Friendly Enemies

This film takes us behind the scenes amidst the hectic preparations for the 9th Istanbul Biennale in 2005, following renowned curators Charles Esche (director Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven), and Vasif Kortun (director art centre Platform Garanti, Istanbul), as they work closely with the numerous artists they have invited. Shooting independently on a modest budget, first time filmmaker Danila Cahen captures many candid moments in the exhibition process, while placing the exchange between artist and curator against a broad, historical narrative. The curator’s role has changed dramatically since the 60s: in fact, expanded curating styles are a highly contested subject today. Using archive material of exhibitions, and numerous interviews with art professionals around the world, the recent history of curating unfolds through important moments, figures and exhibitions.

Friendly Enemies


In the film, there is a constant and yet unspoken tension: who really decides to show what, and in which context? In Istanbul, the curators navigate numerous tensions: between the artist, the selection and production of the works, the venues, and not least, the chaotic city. When a 20-meter high sculpture collapses only days before the opening, we get a rare insight into this unique relationship. With contributions by: Saskia Bos, Ann Demeester, Alex Farquharson, Gerardo Mosquera, Harald Szeemann and artists Hüseyin Alptekin, Yael Bartana, Pavel Büchler, Daniel Buren, Ger van Elk, Serkan Özkaya, Dan Perjovschi, and many others.


Friendly Enemies
The Netherlands


54 min. / Digibeta

Language: Dutch

Subtitles: English

1e camera: Aage Hollander & Victor Nieuwenhuijs

2e camera: Niels Bakker, Martijn van Broekhuizen, Danila Cahen, Daya Cahen, Rob Schröder, Marc Redmeyer and Lonneke Worm

Editing: Chris van Oers

Danila Cahen is an art historian, curator and filmmaker. She has curated exhibitions at BAK and de Appel and has been making films about artists and contemporary art for VPRO television, Vrij Nederland magazine, and art institutions like the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and de Appel. She has published articles, and has been a committee member of the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, and since 2010 is a senior government advisor on visual arts.