The 15th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme kicks off with Fred Wilson’s speech

by Nora Tataryan

The ‘Public Programme’, coordinated by Zeyno Pekünlü and runs parallel to the Istanbul Biennial, has kicked off with the speech artist Fred Wilson delivered at the Pera Museum. Wilson, who is participating in the biennial with his work Afro Kismet, thoroughly explained all his previous works and the piece with which he had represented the American Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennial. He also answered questions regarding his working method. Having resumed with the ’Chosen Families’ symposium on Saturday, 16 September, the Public Programme’s detailed calendar could be followed on the website.

Wilson, who is known for his critique of the politics of museumification, not only problematizes traditional exhibition techniques but also encourages viewers to question what they see by playing around with the mechanisms of collection and naming.

Fred Wilson on Afro Kismet and politics of museology

Whether we’re regular exhibit-goers or ordinary museum visitors, it’s hard to claim that we have perceptions independent of the politics of display while experiencing a work of art. The 15th Istanbul Biennial this year is not exempt from these politics, either. With both its theme and its shrinking size, it is producing an idiosyncratic exhibition practice. Some of the works in the Biennial directly address this issue and encourage us to reflect upon museology: Mark Dion’s work, The Persistent Weeds and Resilient Marine Life of İstanbul, in which ecosystems that resist urban life are explained through scientific exhibition techniques, Dayanita Singh’s architectural space designed for an imaginary curator named Museum of Shedding, Mahmood Khaled’s work Proposal for a House Museum of an Unknown Crying Man, for which he transformed ARK Kültür into a house museum, are only a few examples.             

Fred Wilson, who had produced a similar piece before for the Venice Biennial, is participating in the Istanbul Biennial this year with his work named Afro Kismet. Bringing together historic photographs, late 20th century African figures, engravings and oil paintings, and contemporary İznik tile panels and sculptures, Wilson depicts the role of black people in the Ottoman culture and various aspects of colonialism in his installation. These pieces, some newly produced and some gathered from the collections of museums, not only question the power of knowledge through exhibition techniques by rendering the differences between contemporary art and historical artefacts invisible, but also shed light on a history not thoroughly discussed.

The artist explains his installation named Afro Kismet:

My work is about an issue which is both personal and universal. I dealt with something like this in Venice, as well; I researched the role of black people in the history of that area. Now I want to do something similar here to see how things were in the Ottoman Empire. I think this topic is very in line with the theme of the Biennial: getting to know our neighbours. Unlike in the United States, the situation of the Afro-Turks is more specific, historically. And treating this subject in the form of a museum exhibition reflects my point of view. So, what I’m actually doing is creating a division. A new meaning emerges from the coming together of art and history, since I unite man-made pieces with historical pieces. Therefore, I bring a fresh perspective to things we are used to seeing in museums. You can say that I tell a history which is not adequately discussed from my own viewpoint.

Afro Kismet can be viewed at the Pera Museum during the course of the 15th Istanbul Biennial.

Home Sweet Home: Volkan Aslan and our mobile homes

by Nora Tataryan

Volkan Aslan is participating in the 15th Istanbul Biennial this year with his video installation named Home Sweet Home. In the video, time and perspective move forward by ramifying into three channels and we witness a seven-minute section of the lives of two women. Home Sweet Home is a video that can be more accurately described by the feeling it leaves you with rather than the story it tells. The inside of a house, a boat moving slowly across the Bosphorus and the floating of that boat on the water: At the end of these alternating images we find the opportunity to reflect upon the concepts of neighbourhood, mobility and vagrancy. We met with Volkan Aslan, the creator of Home Sweet Home, which is going to be exhibited on the island of Lesvos on 17 September and talked about his work.

How did you come up with the idea of making this video and what has the process been like?

Home Sweet Home is a project I’ve been working on for a long time. It waited on my board in the atelier as a draft for a while. First I decided to make little sculptures of it. I started with model fishing boats I found. There were an ongoing, violent war and millions of people who were forced to be displaced because of it within earshot. I can say that people who had to migrate due to various social, political and economic reasons and the fact that we have been witnessing all these were the starting points of the video. I came up with the idea while thinking of a way to tell this process, the issue of forced displacement without further agitation. During Elmgreen & Dragset’s visit to the atelier last year, we decided to realise the idea as part of the theme a good neighbour, then followed a ten-month production process. The filming took two days but pre and post-production process took very long. Valuable people who are very good at their jobs contributed their efforts to this project. I couldn’t have realised it if it weren’t for them.

Watching the video from three different channels causes a fracture in both time and place and we understand at the end of the video what this serves to do. Could you tell us how this choice of yours relates to the theme of the video?

Mainly, simultaneous stories flow on all three screens. The two stories and one scenery that we have been watching all merge at one point and commence the main story; a story of which we will never know the ending and the beginning. It wouldn’t be wrong to call these screens ‘windows’. While these distanced, separate stories keep moving forward, we widen our gaze for a moment and see the ‘big picture’. A picture I would rather not see. Another reason why there are three separate screens is to give the audience the liberty to watch whichever life they like, so it doesn’t oblige them to a continuity.

We don’t have much information about the protagonists of the video but we witness small fractions of their lives. In this sense, what would you say Home Sweet Home pertains to?

Yes, we don’t really know these two women. We don’t have a clue where they come from or where they are going. They themselves don’t have a clue anymore, either. We watch a seven-minute part of an ordinary day in their lives. Their belongings, the objects they use, how they organise the space they live in... All these elements make me think that this is a video that pertains to those who have a will to be alive and keep alive, no matter what. Why are they passing through here, where are they going and most importantly, are they going somewhere? Is there ‘anywhere’ to go? The video is a fiction orbiting around these sorts of questions. Two unconnected women who keep living their lives despite all the constriction proceed, but I don’t think they arrived someplace yet. Nor do I think they stopped.

In your previous works, you produced pieces combining old materials at hand. This piece involves combining different places. How does this piece fit into your general art practice?

I can’t say that it falls into a different category in my art practice. It’s true, I work with different materials and different types of expressions: sculpture, photography, off-the-shelf objects, videos… When I think about all the works that have been produced from past to present, it leaves me with a sense of a broad collage. Two old materials combined together, an old and a produced material combined together… It is about combining. This piece combines two lives in a fictional way. And when objects are concerned, like you said, it combines different places.

When we take into consideration the times we are going through, migration, mobility and the increasing ambiguity of the concept ‘home’ have become the dominant mood of our day. What does it mean to you, in this sense, to be exhibiting your work in Istanbul during such times?

Knowing the sea is right behind the wall on which the projections are reflected, and then watching the people I love leave one by one… It’s very sad. However it is that way for very personal reasons. The brief moment we get to witness the story of the two women is while they are crossing the Bosphorus. So it’s like these two people crossed the Bosphorus last June and I, as someone who lives in this city, witnessed a seven-minute part of that crossing.

Week long journey of Boncuk the donkey at the Biennial

A donkey named Boncuk brought to the garden of Istanbul Modern from a northern village in Istanbul for the opening week is a part of the performance by Xiao Yu, Ground (2014/17). Apart from taking part in the durational performance in which it drags a plough through the exhibition space that has been filled with wet cement, Boncuk also spent time with the biennial visitors during the preview days, including Ai Wei Wei who was in town for the opening of his solo exhibition.

Boncuk will return to its village after its last performance on Friday morning, 15 September, between 10.00 and 11.00. The video documentation of the performance will be screened at Istanbul Modern for the duration of the Biennial.

Xiao Yu’s performance is a direct expression of an act of labour, one link in a chain of ecological and anthropological processes that persist widely though precariously, and are increasingly unseen by an urban public. With the furrows, the animal and human create what in a real field would be means for new life, but the use of concrete opens questions about urban expansion and development and their effect on rural land and agrarian tradition.

A plough led by an animal and a human represents one of the most ancient forms of agricultural activity. Yet in an increasingly urban world, many people have never experienced such labour. The work speaks to the interdependence of nature and agriculture, the taming of animals and their relationship to humans, as well as notions of labour. Increasingly, with ecological fragility and the threat of a coming age of water and food scarcity, it is perhaps no longer the human who controls nature, but the opposite: nature exerts it grip on humanity as the direction of the tracks reverses.

Istanbul Biennial and Koç Holding present the city with a permanent artwork

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding, the 15th Istanbul Biennial (16 September – 12 November) is getting ready to bestow a present to the city with the support of Koç Holding. Within the scope of the Biennial, celebrating its 30th anniversary, world renowned artist Ugo Rondinone’s rainbow, which was displayed at the Taksim Square in 1999, reunites with Istanbulites at the Mustafa Kemal Cultural Centre near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

Within the scope of a new agreement signed between the Istanbul Biennial and the 2007-2026 Biennial Sponsor Koç Holding, the biennial will leave the city a permanent work in every edition, starting with this year. The first surprise of the project is Ugo Rondinone, one of the most racy and prolific figures of today’s art scene, who is participating in the 15th Istanbul Biennial with a permanent installation of his neon sculpture, Where Do We Go From Here? that is a part of his series, Rainbow Poems (1997–2017).

Ugo Rondinone’s rainbow sculpture composed of neon lights was made for the 6th Istanbul Biennial eighteen years ago in 1999 and was displayed at the Taksim Square. Now in the 30th anniversary of the biennial, a new arrangement of the work will be placed on the roof of the Mustafa Kemal Cultural Centre (MKM), which is located near the European leg of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on the Bosphorus and which has been a significant cultural venue for Istanbul since 2004.

Rondinone’s iconic work, Where Do We Go From Here? will be displayed in Istanbul permanently with the support of Koç Holding. To be displayed next to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, the neon sculpture will be viewed by thousands crossing the bridge every day, and have Istanbul join the other cities of the world where Rondinone’s works are publicly displayed. Ugo Rondinone says: ’My intention is to make a poetic touch in public space through the paradox of a night-time rainbow.’

The work asks the question ’Where do we go from here?’ with the aim of making the passers-by think about their future and their hopes. The colours emerging from darkness represent a harbinger of hope or a positive message. By re-installing the same work he displayed in the 6th Istanbul Biennial at the beginning of his career, Rondinone also gives a reference to the history of both the biennial and the city.

 

Who is Ugo Rondinone?

Born in 1964 in Switzerland, Ugo Rondinone graduated from the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunste in Vienna in 1990. A winner of multiple awards, his works concentrate on such themes as desire, longing, and conception. He currently continues to work in New York, creating mixed-media installations that include sculpture, painting, video, sound, and photography. Conveying his profound interest in the contemplation of everyday life and activities in many of his works, Rondinone opts to mould reality in a poetic style. Rondinone has represented his home country in the 2007 Venice Biennale, and his work can be found in the permanent collection of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. He has displayed his works at prestigious venues, including The Garage (Moscow), Place Vendôme (Paris), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai), and Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney). He was bestowed the Honorary Award by the Bomb Benefit Gala in 2015. Rondinone is a pre-eminent figure in the field of art in public space.

Tuğçe Tuna is at the Biennial with her new choreography, Body Drops

Tuğçe Tuna; choreographer, dance artist, academic, and movement therapist. For the 15th Istanbul Biennial, she has created a new choreography entitled Body Drops (2017), performed by nine dancers on a regular schedule throughout the exhibition. Body Drops focuses on kinesthetic empathy, accumulations of the body, invisible losses of the body and what the body leaves behind in mind and space.

The artist brings together neighbouring bodies under the dome of the hammam, creating a choreography inspired by the architectural characteristics of the space and the star signs of the performance artists.

Choreography days and hours
16-17 September 2017, 17.30 and 20.30
Every Saturday at 17.30 and 20.30 for the duration of the Biennial
The audience should make a reservation via rezervasyon.iksv.org.

The body is matter, it is conductive;
it conveys the life cycle.
The body will accumulate what is yours, your befores and afters.
The body remembers and transforms.
This cycle is a cosmic cycle.
The body has invisible losses.
The body evaporates as well. Each component that forms the body is found in stars, each body is a star.

T. Tuna, Istanbul, 2017

Concept, Choreography, Director: Tuğçe Tuna
Choreography Artists: Ekin Ançel, Pınar Akyüz, Gülçin Erdiş, Aybike İpekçi, Erdem Kaynarca, Koray Çivril, Melih Kıraç, Hilal Sibel Pekel, Sinan Özer, Tuğçe Tuna
Sound Design: Tuğçe Tuna, Vahit Tuna
Light Design: Utku Kara
Project Production Assistant: Yonca Hiç
Venue Manager: Lale Madenoğlu

Flâneuses at L’Institut français à Istanbul from 13 September to 3 November

The exhibition, Flâneuses brings together five of the artists who have participated in the Turkey Workshop at Paris’ eminent Cité Internationale des Arts Artist Residency Programme, rented by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) in 2009 for 20 years for artists from Turkey to benefit. The exhibition, curated by the Director of the Istanbul Biennial Bige Örer, will be open at the L’Institut français à Istanbul from September 13 to November 3.

The Flâneuses exhibition hosts the artists Aslı Çavuşoğlu, İnci Furni, Güneş Terkol, Yasemin Özcan, and İz Öztat & Zişan, who have worked at the Turkey Workshop in the Cité des Arts over different periods, with works all based on “flânerie”.

“Walking” plays a pivotal role in the exhibition, comprising works which were inspired by the interaction the artists formed with the studio they stayed in as well as with the city. Approaching walking in philosophical, geographical, spiritual, social, political, and literary terms, the artists turn their stroll through streets across the city into an unconventional field of experience, both allowing flâneuses to witness unexpected instances, and transforming their trajectory of walking into a form of memory.

Deriving from a rich literature on walking spanning a vast geography across different generations, the exhibition Flâneuses focuses mainly on the figure of “flaneur/flâneuse”, who emerged as an important figure in French literary culture in Paris in the 19th century, and who in later years, has assumed a timeless and universal character.

On the opening night of the Flâneuses, at 19.30, Yasemin Özcan will deliver a performative presentation entitled “Heart of the Flâneuse”. GuGuOu, a new group by Oğuz Erdin, Güçlü Öztekin, and Güneş Terkol, will also be in the opening at 20:15, with a performance they have developed on walking in the city, getting lost, and flânerie.

The exhibition book, designed by Özge Güven, features Bige Örer’s introduction on the exhibition and Fatih Özgüven’s article on the flânerie experiences of women authors in Turkish, as well as Özge Ejder’s interview with the artists and curator Bige Örer.

Due to the security measures of L’Institut français à Istanbul, visitors are required to fill out a registration form via the web page that can be accessed by clicking here.

Two neighbouring pieces in Istanbul Modern: Yonamine’s posters and Latifa Echakhch’s frescos

by Nora Tataryan

The theme of the Istanbul Biennial this year is a good neighbour. It is possible to relate all the works that take place in the Biennial to this theme and deduce different readings. Besides, whole new sets of meanings emerge from the interactions of neighbouring pieces with one another. Two of the best examples of this dialogue are Latifa Echakhch’s installation named Crowd Fade and Yonamine’s collages at Istanbul Modern. What these two pieces have in common is that they are both destroyed. This way, they not only present an alternative to traditional methods of exhibition, but also encourage their viewers to reflect upon this act of destruction.

Yonamine, who has lived in many countries including Angola, France, Germany and Zimbabwe so far, produces multi-layered collages, comprising torn and demounted posters that we frequently see on the streets of large cities. Featuring elements that seem to hint at the critique of colonialism, urban transformation, pop culture and racism, these collages are made up of the artist’s own designs or found materials. The prints are made using newsprint paper and drawing ink by Yonamine, to be destroyed by the artist in end, like they would be on the streets. The final product that meets the viewer is series of posters that are barely legible, evoking the presence of both the freedom of expression and the intensity of censorship. The artist explains his work, which he produced exclusively for the Istanbul Biennial: 

It’s chaos, actually. A piece inspired by the streets, the posters. I’m very curious about the reaction it will get here in Istanbul, because in this installation I touch upon the problems in my country, in Europe and in Asia. I love working with simple materials and producing first and then destroying is also a part of this process. If you were to hang these posters in the streets, they would be perished in twenty minutes. In this sense, what I’m doing is actually destroying something I worked very hard for. One of the things I value most in life is freedom of expression. I am someone who communicates by talking and that is what I try to get across with my work. Producing to destroy is a part of it. 

Next to Yonamine’s posters, Latifa Echakhch, winner of the 2013 Marcel Duchamp Prize, makes us see the culture of protest in an unusual form with the installation she designed in situ for the Istanbul Biennial. The artist, who in her words was raised inside of a tradition of disobedience, creates a world in between reality and imagination by destroying the frescos on which she painted public demonstrations. Covering two facing walls of a hallway in Istanbul Modern, Crowd Fade not only highlights the history and rootedness of the concepts of ‘streets’ and ‘disobedience’, but also reveals the political potential of them. These images do not belong to a specific city or context but are as fluid as scenes from a dream and as old as the fresco aesthetic implies them to be, Echakhch says. 

The neighbourhood of the works of Echakhch and Yonamine is precious, since both construct a new semantic world without fully revealing the culture which they criticize or are a part of. The pieces the artists created by destroying can be seen at Istanbul Modern until the end of the Biennial.

A conversation with Tuğçe Tuna on Body Drops

Choreographer, dance artist, academic, and movement therapist Tuğçe Tuna is among the artists of the 15th Istanbul Biennial with a performance she will be presenting at Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam. Let’s hear what the artist has to say about the performance she entitled Body Drops and how it relates to a good neighbour.

Body Drops can be seen at 17.30 and 20.30 every Saturday at Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam for the duration of the Biennial. The performance will also be held on the first Sunday of the opening week, 17 September, at the same hours.

Public Programme: chosen families and our non-human neighbours

by Nora Tataryan

Is a good neighbour cooking for you when you’re sick? From a neighbouring country? Reading the same newspaper as you? Someone who just moved in? We understand from the questions on the posters of the 15th Istanbul Biennial which are spread through the streets of the city that in our people-based world, when we hear the word ’neighbour’, we first think about a person. It is certain that the works which will be exhibited during the biennial will diffuse this perception and make us ask new questions. The Public Programme that is organised within the scope of the biennial also aims to take the concept ’neighbour’ out of its customary connotations and create a new platform for discussions. The programme of which artist Zeyno Pekünlü serves as a coordinator will enable us to perceive the theme a good neighbour as the neighbourhood of disciplines, with participation of researchers, activists and musicians from different fields. Pekünlü explains the intellectual background of the series of activities that are going to be taking place over the course of two months:

The theme a good neighbour might seem simple but it is actually a substantial subject. Especially within the context of Turkey, when the neighbouring countries and the heavy collective memory are taken into account, the number of layers to consider increases. The word ’neighbour’ has a nostalgic connotation in people’s minds. On the other hand, the last few years have seen an increase in the number of neighbourhood forums and the social centres that derive from those and institutions which work with refugees. So I tried to envision the concept ’neighbour’ in a way that would include all these connotations and I thought about all the things we have been talking about over the past five years and all the things we are going to be talking about over the next five years. That is how we decided to limit the Public Programme to these two lines: ’chosen families’ and ’mutual fate’ that we share with our non-human neighbours.

In the opening symposium of the Public Programme, Shahrzad Mojab from the University of Toronto is going to deliver a speech on migration through violence and women’s bodies, drawing from his own experiences while Joseph Massad is going to give a speech where he criticizes the liberal manifestations of multiculturalism and Şükrü Argın is going to make a presentation about the lines we draw inside and outside of national borders.

Among those who will take place in the closing symposium are Massimo de Angelis, Stavros Stavrides and Ayfer Bartu Candan, who conduct researches on practices of commonising both in urban and rural areas. As part of the program, Kadir Has University academic Ezgi Tuncer is going to host a workshop in which chefs from different countries will cook a meal together and have a chat, with regard to migration and food, while academic Sezai Ozan Zeybek is contributing to the programme by making a presentation about the history of the city alongside the history of dogs. Istanbul’s emigrant and resident musicians are coming together to deliver an impromptu performance at a meeting organised by Evrim Hikmet Öğüt. Collective Çukurcuma is organising reading events at the new free space formed on the ground floor of Deniz Palas, the building in which Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts is located. The Hamisch - Syrian Cultural House in Istanbul is going to collaborate with The Goethe-Institut for the workshop where Syrian refugee children will be creating their own super heroes with the help of young Syrian artists.

Please click here to view the events of the Public Programme.

a good neighbour billboards are at Plovdiv with the collaboration of the Goethe Institute Bulgaria

Plovdiv in Bulgaria was one of the host cities of the a good neighbour billboard project, which intends to share the questions of the 15th Istanbul Biennial with residents of many other cities around the world.

Volkan Aslan is at the 15th Istanbul Biennial with his new video, Home Sweet Home


Volkan Aslan (b. 1982, Ankara, Turkey) lives in Istanbul, Turkey. He studied painting at Mersin University Faculty of Fine Arts, Turkey. His solo exhibitions include The Perfect Day, Pi Artworks Istanbul (2015); A Day Not Yet Lived, Pi Artworks London (2014) and Don’t Forget to Remember, Arter, Istanbul (2013). Various group shows in which he has participated include Harbor, İstanbul Modern (2017); Istanbul. Passion, Joy, Fury, Maxxi Museum, Rome (2015); The Moving Museum, Istanbul (2014) and Mom, am I barbarian? (13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013). Aslan is also co-founder of 5533, a non-profit independent art space in Istanbul.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda and the forests in our living rooms

by Nora Tataryan

Alejandro Almanza Pereda is an artist who produces his art in both Mexico City and New York City and his dynamic life reflects on his work. Pereda, known for his works of photography and sculpture, is exhibiting his series called Horror Vacui, a project in motion since 2010, at the 15th Istanbul Biennial. The installation, which deals with the tension between private and public spaces through the relationship of humans and nature, invites us to witness how walls take possession of anonymous paintings of nature. We talked with the artist about his exhibition on display until November 12, his practice of production and the disruptive nature of art.

How did you get involved with the 15th Istanbul Biennial and how your project has evolved?

The invitation came direct from the curators, from Ingar and Micheal. I met with them in Berlin and we talked about all sort of stuff: we talked about Berlin, we talked about Istanbul, and actually we talked about the concept of the city in general. They asked me to participate with this specific work of mine. I have never worked with somebody this determined. They were really right to the point. That is actually very good for an artist. They didn’t let me do ‘whatever I want’. They did know what they ask for, so it made my work easier. That was my only interaction with them. This series has been exhibited in other places previously, but because each time the paintings involved are different, the work keeps changing.

How do you describe your work? Could you talk about where it takes its inspiration from and the ways in which it speaks with the theme of the Biennial: a good neighbour?

This work is about how we see the nature and more than that, how we see it in a fragmented way. We always see the nature when we are outside. The paintings in my work are ordinary paintings that people put in their living rooms. They are beautiful depictions of nature. They are just perfect and you put it in the most artificial place in the world, your living room! The living room is where you feel conformable and safe from the nature. We need these shelters to survive. It is also interesting to see nature surrounded by walls. There is definitely a fascination with nature and a longing to be outside of it. The tension between inside and outside is what lies behind this installation.

Another motivation behind this work is the dependency between the wall and the painting. In big museums, massive paintings are hung on the walls. At one point, I started seeing them as sculptures, which are dependent on the wall. The painting needs a wall to be exhibited in the museums, just like us. I tried to imagine what would happen when wall depends on painting, rather than painting on wall. So I basically brought the wall back into the picture. Along with the theme of the Biennial, the easiest way to interpret this work might be to see it as a tension between concrete and nature, but there is another dimension to it, which is dependency.

Are these paintings original, do you paint them?

To be honest, I cannot even hold a brush. I collect them from thrift shops. They are mostly anonymous. This year, the Biennial team helped me collect these paintings, thus they are from Istanbul. We had luck and we found these three pieces because they are not that easy to find and they are heavy. They will be casted in the museum and be like a new part of the Pera Museum. I am aware that they are not beautiful walls; they are modernist, but not pleasing.

Your works usually explore the relationality of objects and your sculptures depict everyday-life objects that are connected to each other with light pulps, suggesting a balance and tension in between. How does this specific work of yours fit into your larger art practice?

My practice deals with materiality, physics, perception and assumption on materials and objects. Assumption and values, it is how we see the objects. We connect to an object through its materiality but it is much more than that. For instance, something plastic could be a gift from your dad and it could have more value to you than it is actually worth. In my works, I want to talk about the tension between material and value. My practice, in a way, is about seeing something beautiful when it is destroyed. So we have this idea of preciousness and beauty towards a painting, but in this installation I destroy them with a concrete wall. My work is aggressive, not pleasant at all. I am not an artist for pleasing, I love challenging the viewer.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s work can be seen at the Pera Museum

One of the landscape paintings that the Mexican artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda found from fleashops in Istanbul and covered with concrete is placed within the permanent collection of the Pera Museum and opened to visit a month before the opening of the Biennial. A painting from the Orientalist Painting Collection of the Museum was replaced with the new piece from Pereda’s series, Horror Vacui, that he has been working on since 2010. Two more works from the series will be exhibited at the Biennial.

Photography: Poyraz Tütüncü

These cameras are not there to watch, but to be watched

by Nora Tataryan

One of the works on display at public spaces at the 15th Istanbul Biennial belongs to Burçak Bingöl, an artist known for her works of ceramics and patterns. The artist makes a critical interpretation of the surveillance culture of our day by ornamenting the surveillance cameras, which have gradually become one of the common sights of cities in the last ten years with plant patterns she collected from Beyoğlu. By placing the ceramic cameras around the city, Bingöl takes these panoptic gadgets that spy on us and makes them into observable objects of art. In this reverse relationship, instead of urban life, the cameras record the disappearing phytogeography of Beyoğlu. Burçak Bingöl is an artist who often uses ceramics and ornamentation in her works. This series, in which she produced pieces similar to her solo exhibition in 2011, Cabinet of Curiosities, aims to functionalize regular objects in perspective of art, with concepts of alienation and collective memory in mind, in her words. Here’s the story behind the surveillance cameras, which are inspired by Istanbul:

I can describe this work as an alienation theme that started out personal but merged with Istanbul. Back when I was living in Ankara, I wasn’t exposed to cameras this much; I was a research assistant at a university and had a life full of green, of forest. All that changed when I came to İstanbul. Being directly exposed to objects you used to know from a distance and knowing that every moment of your life is being recorded brings about a different state of existence. We are used to seeing this material as plates on our table, or sinks in our bathroom, so in this case we can talk about a twofold alienation; of both form and material. I have always found kitsch floral patterns interesting due to their feminine structures. Bringing these elements together resulted in a reverse tracer-traced relationship and this is something we don’t ordinarily see, so it raises awareness.

Bingöl’s cameras can be seen during the Biennial at over twenty locations among which are Kumbaracı 50, Pera Museum, Şimdi Café, LeBon Patisserie, Istanbul Modern. Elmgreen and Dragset previously stated that the exhibition venues which are within walking distance constitute a sort of temporary neighbourhood, thus a new reality. In this new reality, in a neighbourhood full of ’non-surveillance’ cameras, the work of Burçak Bingöl makes us think: ’Is a good neighbour someone who doesn’t spy on you?’

Online article series on a good neighbour

Every Monday, writers, editors, curators, thinkers and many others write about a good neighbour on the special section dedicated to the 15th Istanbul Biennial in the online newspaper, T24, available only in Turkish. You may read the articles by clicking on the titles below.

Bir Komşuluk Retrospektifi
Elif Kamışlı

Yoldaşımsın, öyleyse varım
Murat Alat

İyi Bir Komşu: Dokuzyüzonbir
M.K. Perker

İyi bir komşu iyi bir insan mıdır?
Yasser M. Dallal

Şişli’de bir apartıman
Murat Uyurkulak

Baklavanın gücü
Kaan Sezyum

Komşuluğun bir sinefile düşündürdükleri
Melis Behlil

İyi bir komşu seninle aynı müziği dinleyen birisi midir?
Melis Danişmend

İyi bir komşu sizin gibi yaşayan birisi midir?
Binnaz Toprak

Bir yaşamsal zorunluluk olarak komşuluk
Talat Parman

Komşuluk
Murat Belge

Komşuluk Alfabesi 2
Haydar Ergülen

Komşuluk Alfabesi 1
Haydar Ergülen

Sınır komşusu
Ertuğ Uçar

Olmayan komşu
Şebnem İşigüzel

Zoraki komşu
Anna Turay

Sükûnet apartmanında paltolama ve yalıtım işleri
Yasemin Özcan

Komşular arasında
Selçuk Orhan

Komşuluğun yeni halleri
Bekir Ağırdır

Gözün kayıp oyuğu
Sema Kaygusuz

Komşudaki anahtar...
Metin Solmaz

"En iyi komşu ölü komşudur!"
Barış Acar

Mainimiz var! Kimse bize gelmiyor
Leyla Bektaş-Ata

Yandı bitti kül oldu
Rober Koptaş

Komşu ev demekti...
Evren Balta

Mükemmel bir komşu nasıl kapıyı açar?
Süreyyya Evren

15th Istanbul Biennial is in the neighbourhood with a good neighbour posters

You can also share the questions of a good neighbour with your neighbourhood by hanging the posters on your windows. Posters can be obtained, free of charge, from box offices at İKSV, Pera Museum, Istanbul Modern and selected Biletix sales points.* 

*Afişlerinizi Caddebostan Migros, Cevahir AVM, Kadıköy Sahne, Akmerkez Vakkorama, Beyoğlu Demirören AVM, Capitol AVM, Capacity AVM, İstinye Park, Forum İstanbul, Kanyon ve City’s Nişantaşı.

Artists announced for the 15th Istanbul Biennial

The 15th Istanbul Biennial, entitled a good neighbourand curated by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, reveals the participating artists of this year’s edition, which takes place from 16 September to 12 November 2017. Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding, the 15th Istanbul Biennial brings together artworks by 55 artists from 32 countries, all addressing different notions of homebelonging and neighbourhood. The biennial takes place in six neighbouring venues: Istanbul Modern, Galata Greek Primary School, Ark Kültür, Pera Museum, Yoğunluk Artist Atelier, and Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam.

Your neighbour might be someone who lives quite a different life from yours. And hopefully you, unlike many politicians lately, are not the one who chooses to deal with your fear of otherness by fencing yourself off. The artists in the 15th Istanbul Biennial raise questions about ideas of home, neighbourhood, belonging and co-existence from multiple perspectives. Some of the artworks examine how our domestic living conditions and modes have changed and how our neighbourhoods have transformed, while others focus on how we cope with today’s geopolitical challenges on a micro-level. The Biennial takes its form from the invited artists’ personal or analytical statements: an engaging mixture of hopes and visions, of sadness and indignation, of history and present day.

Elmgreen & Dragset, curators of the 15th Istanbul Biennial

By the numbers: 15th Istanbul Biennial

2 months
55 artists
32 countries
6 exhibition venues
30 new commissions

Please click here to view the artlist list.

Elmgreen & Dragset on the 15th Istanbul Biennial

Elmgreen & Dragset talk about the 15th Istanbul Biennial in a conversation held by The Biennial Foundation at Venice.

From Moscow to Sydney: the International Billboard Project

In anticipation of the exhibition, the 15th Istanbul Biennial launched an International Billboard Project to share the theme of a good neighbour in different cities around the world. Through collaborations with cultural institutions worldwide, the International Billboard Project displays a carefully curated selection of photographs by Lukas Wassmann, which capture unexpected encounters paired with questions asking what makes a good neighbour. Host cities include Moscow (Russia), Sydney (Australia), Milan (Italy), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Armagh, Ballynahinch, Belfast, Downpatrick and Newry (Northern Ireland), Southhampton (UK), Calgary (Canada), Plovidv (Bulgaria), Chicago (USA), Seoul and Gwangju (South Korea). The most recent stops were Liverpool and Manchester for the project that will continue until the end of 2017.

The 15th Istanbul Biennial to open its doors in six venues

The 15th Istanbul Biennial, entitled a good neighbour and curated by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, will take place from 16 September to 12 November 2017. The 15th Istanbul Biennial will be located in the heart of Istanbul, and can be visited free of charge at six nearby venues within walking distance.

Bringing together a variety of artworks dealing with different notions of home and neighbourhood, the 15th Istanbul Biennial exhibitions will take place at Istanbul Modern, Galata Greek Primary School, Ark Kültür, Pera Museum, an artist collective’s studio, and Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam.

Please click here to view the venues of the 15th Istanbul Biennial.

The 15th Istanbul Biennial’s Public Programme

The public programme of the 15th Istanbul Biennial, coordinated by Zeyno Pekünlü, will kick off during the opening days of the Biennial. In addition to the symposia to be performed during the opening and closing week, there will be periodic events in which the audience will cook, read, and make music, as well as discussions, debates and workshops around the theme of the Biennial, a good neighbour.

Please click here for the details of the Public Programme.

The second stop of the 15th Istanbul Biennial’s international billboard project is Limerick City Gallery of Art

Having launched at thirteen spots in Armagh, Ballynahinch, Belfast Downpatrick and Newry in Northern Ireland on 27 February – 12 March as part of the St Patrick Festival, the 15th Istanbul Biennial’s international billboard project continues its route with Limerick. Realised in collaboration with EVA International and Limerick City Gallery of Art, the billboard carries the question of “Is a good neighbour someone who just moved in?” next to a photograph by Lukas Wassmann.

The 15th Istanbul Biennial, curated by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, entitled a good neighbour, will deal with multiple notions of home and neighbourhoods, exploring how living modes in our private spheres have changed throughout the past decades. The biennial will approach home as an indicator of diverse identities and a vehicle for self-expression, and neighbourhood as a micro-universe exemplifying some of the challenges that are faced in terms of co-existence today. Against this backdrop, the 15th Istanbul Biennial initiated an international billboard project in anticipation of the exhibition, and spreads its theme of a good neighbour to many different cities around the world from Manchester to Sydney, and from Havana to Delhi.

The international billboard campaign is realised through collaborations with multiple cultural institutions worldwide and will display a carefully curated selection of photographs by Lukas Wassmann. Wassmann’s photographs which capture unexpected encounters are paired with questions asking what makes a good neighbour. The project is a collaboration between the curators Elmgreen & Dragset, graphic designer Rupert Smyth, and artist Lukas Wassmann, questioning the ways in which neighbourhoods have changed all around the world.

15th Istanbul Biennial is "worth travelling for"

USA magazine Newsweek presented the 15th Istanbul Biennial among the exhibitions in 2017 that are "worth travelling for".

Editor Francesca Gavin stated: 

Turkey’s political turbulence won’t stop Scandinavian artists Elmgreen and Dragset from unveiling their take on the Istanbul Biennial in September. Their project is based on the idea of collaboration, and it is likely to reflect their fascination with display and archive.

Please click here to read the feature.

The title and conceptual framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial is announced

The 15th Istanbul Biennial’s title and conceptual framework was announced by the curators Elmgreen & Dragset at a media conference on Wednesday, 7 December at Salon İKSV. The 15th Istanbul Biennial will take place between 16 September and 12 November 2017.

The media conference started with a live act involving 40 people, each asking a question as to what constitutes a good neighbour. Throughout the media conference photographs were projected behind the performers, selected by artist from Turkey, Ali Taptık in relation to the framework of a good neighbour from a series he has produced in Istanbul.

The director of the Istanbul Biennial Bige Örer made a welcome speech following the live act. The curators Elmgreen & Dragset then announced the title and gave a brief curatorial statement about the conceptual framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial.

Elmgreen & Dragset spoke about some of the themes that can be associated with the title and said that the Biennial’s format will bear traces of being curated by artists: 

a good neighbour will deal with multiple notions of home and neighbourhoods, exploring how living modes in our private spheres have changed throughout the past decades. Home is approached as an indicator of diverse identities and a vehicle for self-expression, and neighbourhood as a micro-universe exemplifying some of the challenges we face in terms of co-existence today.

The curators then introduced the biennial’s billboard campaign, created by graphic designer Rupert Smyth together with artists. This international campaign will be realised through collaborations with multiple cultural institutions worldwide, questioning the ways in which neighbourhoods have changed all around the world.

Following the presentations, the curators Elmgreen & Dragset and the Istanbul Biennial Director Bige Örer answered questions. The media conference was open to art and media professionals.

The preview of the 15th Istanbul Biennial will be on 12-13 September (media only) and 14-15 September 2017 (media and art professionals). The biennial will take place in different venues throughout the city and, in addition to the exhibition, will include a series of performative interventions as well as a film and public programme.

#istanbulbiennial
#agoodneighbour

News

The 15th Istanbul Biennial Public Programme kicks off with Fred Wilson’s speech

Bringing together a number of handcrafted items related to Ottoman culture and the roles of black people within it in his installation for the Biennial Afro Kismet, on view at the Pera Museum, Wilson was the first guest of the Public Programme with an artist talk he delivered at the auditorium of the Pera Museum on 14 September.

Home Sweet Home: Volkan Aslan and our mobile homes

Commissioned for the 15th Istanbul Biennial, and filmed on the Bosphorus, Volkan Aslan’s video installation Home Sweet Home (2017) is a meditative take on displacement. With its disjunctions of time and perspective, and imagery of water and travel, the work commemorates individuals forced to make long journeys.

Week long journey of Boncuk the donkey at the Biennial

A donkey named Boncuk brought to the garden of Istanbul Modern from a northern village in Istanbul for the opening week is a part of the performance by Xiao Yu, Ground (2014/17). A reminder of the ecological fragility of our age, Ground will continue its course with a video installation that will be screened at Istanbul Modern throughout the Biennial.

Istanbul Biennial present a permanent gift to the city in its 30th anniversary

Ugo Rondinone’s spectecular neon sculpture, Where Do We Go From Here?, exhibited first at the Taksim Square as part of the 6th Istanbul Biennial in 1999, returns to the city to be displayed permanently. With the support of the 2007-2026 Biennial Sponsor Koç Holding, a new sculpture will be offered to the public domain with each Biennial.

Tuğçe Tuna is at the Biennial with her new choreography, Body Drops

Body Drops, a new choreography conceived by Tuğçe Tuna for the Biennial, is at Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam on every Saturday for the duration of the Biennial, and on the first Sunday after the public opening.

A neighbouring exhibition curated by Istanbul Biennial Director Bige Örer: Flâneuses

The Flâneuses exhibition, opening on 13 September, hosts the artists Aslı Çavuşoğlu, İnci Furni, Güneş Terkol, Yasemin Özcan, and İz Öztat & Zişan, who have worked at the Turkey Workshop in the Cité des Arts over different periods, with works all based on “flânerie”.

Yonamine and Latifa Echakhch present neighbouring works at Istanbul Modern

Two neighbouring, site-specific works that are brought to life at the centre of Istanbul Modern by Yonamine and Latifa Echakhch, welcomes the street aesthetic into the Biennial. The works in dialogue prove that destruction might be as productive as construction. Here is our quick conversation with the artists during the installation.

A conversation with Tuğçe Tuna on Body Drops

Choreographer, dance artist, academic, and movement therapist Tuğçe Tuna is among the artists of the 15th Istanbul Biennial with a performance she will be presenting at Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam. Let’s hear what the artist has to say about the performance she entitled Body Drops and how it relates to a good neighbour.

A conversation with the Public Programme coordinator Zeyno Pekünlü

The programme of which artist Zeyno Pekünlü serves as a coordinator will enable us to perceive the theme a good neighbour as the neighbourhood of disciplines, with participation of researchers, activists and musicians from different fields. Pekünlü explains the intellectual background of the series of activities that are going to be taking place over the course of two months.

a good neighbour billboards are at Plovdiv with the collaboration of the Goethe Institute Bulgaria

Plovdiv in Bulgaria was one of the host cities of the a good neighbour billboard project, which intends to share the questions of the 15th Istanbul Biennial with residents of many other cities around the world.

Volkan Aslan is at the 15th Istanbul Biennial with his new video, Home Sweet Home

Teasers of Home Sweet Home, video commission of the 15th Istanbul Biennial to artist Volkan Aslan, are now online.

A talk with Pereda on his grotesque walls

Alejandro Almanza Pereda on the three-piece work he made for the Istanbul Biennial, one of which has recently been launched at the Pera Museum in anticipation of the Biennial.

Pereda’s work is on display at the Pera Museum

Alejandro Almanza Pereda is at the Pera Museum with one of the new pieces he has added to to his seminal series Horror Vacui from Istanbul. The series comprise found Romantic paintings covered by lumps of concrete. The work replaced a painting from the Orientalist Painting Collection of the Pera Museum.

These cameras are not there to watch, but to be watched

A conversation with the artist Burçak Bingöl on her ceramic surveillance cameras that she will install on the façades of over 20 buildings in the most crowded centre of the city.

Online article series on a good neighbour

Every Monday, writers, editors, curators, thinkers and many others write about a good neighbour on the special section dedicated to the 15th Istanbul Biennial in the online newspaper, T24, available only in Turkish.

15th Istanbul Biennial is in the neighbourhood with a good neighbour posters

Posters can be obtained, free of charge, from box offices at İKSV, Pera Museum, Istanbul Modern and selected Biletix sales points.

Artists announced for the 15th Istanbul Biennial

The 15th Istanbul Biennial brings together artworks by 55 artists from 32 countries, all addressing different notions of homebelonging and neighbourhood.

Elmgreen & Dragset on the 15th Istanbul Biennial

Elmgreen & Dragset talk about the 15th Istanbul Biennial in a conversation held by The Biennial Foundation at Venice.

From Moscow to Sydney: the International Billboard Project

In anticipation of the exhibition, the 15th Istanbul Biennial launched an International Billboard Project to share the theme of a good neighbour in different cities around the world.

Biennial to open its doors in six venues

The 15th Istanbul Biennial will be located in the heart of Istanbul, and can be visited free of charge at six nearby venues within walking distance.

a good neighbour at the city of Limerick

Launched at thirteen spots in collaboration with the St. Patrick Festival, the 15th Istanbul Biennial’s international billboard project continues its route in collaboration with Limerick City Gallery of Art.

The 15th Istanbul Biennial is "worth travelling for"

According to Newsweek, the 15th Istanbul Biennial is among the five exhibitions of 2017 that are worth taking the trip.

The title and conceptual framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial is announced

The media conference started with a live act involving 40 people, each asking a question as to what constitutes a good neighbour. Throughout the media conference photographs were projected behind the performers, selected by artist from Turkey, Ali Taptık in relation to the framework of a good neighbour from a series he has produced in Istanbul.