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Awesome art @ Istanbul’s 12th Biennial

Posted on 22 September 2011

Bordello/Dream and Reality. Photo: Sükran Moral

The 12th Istanbul Biennial explores the rich relationship between art and politics, focusing on artworks that are both formally innovative and politically outspoken.

This year’s biennial has already been hailed as Istanbul’s best by The Guardian and others. It takes as its point of departure the work of the Cuban American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996). Gonzalez-Torres was deeply attuned to both the personal and the political, and also rigorously attentive to the formal aspects of artistic production, integrating high modernist, minimal, and conceptual references with themes of everyday life.

The biennial is composed of five group exhibitions and more than 50 solo presentations, all housed in a single venue, Antrepo 3 and 5. Each of the group shows—Untitled (Abstraction), “Untitled” (Ross), “Untitled” (Passport), Untitled (History), and “Untitled” (Death by Gun)—departs from a specific work by Gonzalez-Torres. These five works are reproduced in the Companion publication and function as thematic anchors for the biennial. Each group show features a large number of works occupying a single room, and is distinguished by its gray walls from the solo presentations. The solo presentations are linked to one or several subjects of the group exhibitions, and push the themes decidedly further.

Kezban Arca Batibeki/Dream and Reality; Photo: Muhsin Akgun

“Visitors are encouraged to become active readers, not just silent recipients, of the artworks presented here. To paraphrase Gonzalez-Torres, the 12th Istanbul Biennial is untitled because meaning is always changing in time and space. In the spirit of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who genuinely wanted to make this world a better place and believed that his art could be a catalyst for change, we welcome you to the 12th Istanbul Biennial”, say Jens Hoffmann & Adriano Pedrosa, the curators of the 12th Istanbul Biennial which is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding.

Adriano Pedrosa, born in 1965 in Rio de Janeiro, is an independent curator, editor and writer based in São Paulo. He has published in Artforum (New York), Art Nexus (Bogota), Art+Text (Sydney), Tate etc (London), Exit (Madrid), and Frieze (London), among others.

Jens Hoffmann, born in 1974 in San José, Costa Rica, is a writer and curator of exhibitions based in San Francisco where he is the Director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Hoffmann has worked for a number of art institutions including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; KIASMA –- Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

The art presented at this year’s biennial is awesome, so have a look and enjoy!

When: 17 September–13 November

Where: The Istanbul Biennial is in Antrepo 3 and 5 next to the Istanbul Modern (Antrepo 4) on the waterfront at Tophane. The venues are open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am – 7pm (10pm Thursdays).

Entrance: adults TL 20, students TL 8, unlimited Biennial pass TL 50

More information:

10 of the best exhibitions at the Istanbul biennial, in: The Guardian





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