The Istanbul Biennial is a plastic arts event held every two years. Until 1987, the biennial was part of the Istanbul Festival, with the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts being the main contributor.
This changed in 2005. Instead of picking places that were attractive to tourists, the organizers favored housing zones for where the biennial would be held. The 17th biennial was supposed to be held in 2021 and the curator team was established in 2020. Unfortunately, the planning was cut short as a result of country-wide isolation when the pandemic happened. Instead, the 17th biennial has now been rescheduled for between 17 September - 20 November 2022.
17th İstanbul Biennial
The curator team, consisting of Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar, and David Teh, all have significant history in working as curators. The experienced team wanted to bring innovation to İstanbul Biennial and as a result, thanks to them, the biennial will be held a wider range of districts and will be longer than the usual 8-week period. It has been reported that this brand newness will refresh after the pandemic rescheduling. Some other changes include more integration with İstanbul Film Festival and merging with radio stations. In their statement, the curatorial team announced that to refresh the senses in these times of uncertainty, there won't be enormous galleries, instead, small, more intimate venues will welcome visitors. The team believes that this is an opportunity to recall the priorities of the biennial and the integrity of the art community.
These smaller venues include places like the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Pera Museum, Central Greek High School for Girls in Beyoğlu; Gashouse Museum in Kadıköy; Küçük Mustafa and The Çinili Hammam, atelier of calligrapher Emin Barın in Old City, and Zeytinburnu. This biennial features audio and media engagements and will contribute to İstanbul Film Festival. For those interested, there will be numerous podcasts available both in English and Turkish, covering the news, during the biennial.
A press preview will be through 13 - 16 September and a professional preview is scheduled for the 15th and 16th September. This will be a gala in terms of the contemporary art world. As the venues prepare for the set date, the list of contributors continues to grow to this day.
Bilge Örer, the director of the biennial, spoke to the IKSV about the details in the IKSV, in an announcement of contibutors:
"The 17th Istanbul Biennial asserts not just the power of art to bring diverse communities together, it celebrates the city itself as fertile ground for co-creation and collaboration. We once again affirm the need to come together, inhospitable spaces and with initiatives that defend and revitalize our public cultures, engaging over the long-term with our communities across the city and beyond.”
It is seen that the main purpose is for people to come together, a freshness after the pandemic. Contributors come all around the world, and the cultural engagement is already visible from the venues and names.
As the main contributor and organization backing the event, the IKSV sees this biennial as an event based on a thought process rather than a single theme. The process is presented as a composting analogy. The IKSV reprised this in the news, about the call for intimate public encounters, as "The biennial will serve as a seedbed or nursery for a few months or more, in which to sew, transplant, nurture and fertilize, to see what sprouts. Some green shoots will awaken new and old ways of doing, saying and listening, of reading, thinking and being together; others will settle into the mulch and become something else altogether."
IKSV, Design by Emre Çıkınoğlu
The 17th Istanbul Biennial will be held across the entirety of İstanbul for far longer than any previous biennial. There will be more innovations for multi-using of senses. It will be intimate with complex cultural interactions. Venues will substitute for seedbed, and we will see what sprouts.
Wikipedia, "İstanbul Bienali", 3 August 2022, https://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/İstanbul_Bienali
IKSV, "17th Istanbul Biennial exhibitions rescheduled to 2022", 3 August 2022, https://bienal.iksv.org/en/news/17th-istanbul-biennial-exhibitions-rescheduled-to-2022
IKSV, "The 17th Istanbul Biennial calls for intimate public encounters in times of crisis and isolation", 3 August 2022, https://bienal.iksv.org/en/news/the-17th-istanbul-biennial-calls-for-intimate-public-encounters-in-times-of-crisis-and-isolation
IKSV, "Istanbul Biennial to explore the city's neighbourhoods in 2022 edition", 3 August 2022, https://bienal.iksv.org/en/news/istanbul-biennial-to-explore-the-city-s-neighbourhoods-in-2022-edition
IKSV, "Istanbul Biennial announces list of contributors", 3 August 2022, https://bienal.iksv.org/en/news/istanbul-biennial-announces-list-of-contributors