September 29, 2011

Istanbul Biennial 2011 overview

Through November 13, 2011
The 12th Istanbul Biennial opens its doors to art lovers on September 17, 2011 and remain on view until November 13, 2011. Istambul Biennial 2011 is transforming Istanbul into an art platform.
The 12th Istanbul Biennial, ranked among the most important European art events of this year along with the Venice Biennale,is realized under the curatorship of Adriano Pedrosa and Jens Hoffmann. The title is Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011.
2011 Istambul Biennial is composed of five group exhibitions and more than 50 solo exhibitions, with a total of more than 500 works. The venue is Antrepo 3 and 5.
The 12th Istanbul Biennial opened its doors to press on September 15, with an official opening ceremony and a press conference. Bülent Eczacıbaşı, chairman of the board of İKSV, gave the opening speech of the ceremony. He said:
“The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts organized the first Istanbul Biennial in 1987. Since then, Istanbul and the biennial have grown, evolved, and gained prominence in concert with one another. The biennial has contributed to the development of Istanbul as a capital of culture and the arts, and Istanbul has received the biennial with open arms, continually renewing the energy of this event with its rich history, contemporary dynamism, and potential. In 1999, the biennial reached 40 thousand people; in 2009 more than 100,000 art enthusiasts attended the biennial and its related events. At the beginning of the 2000s, the number of private museums in our city could be counted on one hand; now we count them by the dozens. Moreover, the number of exhibitions taking place in Istanbul, home to more than 100 art galleries, is rising steadily every year. This increase in the production and consumption of art over the last decade fills us with hope for what we can achieve in the decade ahead. In 2023, when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, Turkey aims to be one of the world’s top 10 economies. Our hope is that our cultural industry enjoys a share of this targeted economic growth. A society that reads more books, visits more exhibitions, goes to more concerts and increases its involvement in art and culture activities is a society that will achieve all kinds of targets more easily and quickly.”
Mustafa V. Koç, chairman of the board of Koç Holding, also spoke at the official opening ceremony and press conference on behalf of Koç Holding, which has undertaken the sponsorship of the Istanbul Biennial through 2016.
The official opening ceremony of the 12th Istanbul Biennial was presented by Defne Halman. Thank-you plaques for their contributions to the biennial were given to the Culture and Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey; the pioneer sponsor of İKSV, Eczacıbaşı Holding; the official airline, Turkish Airlines; the official communication sponsor, Vodafone; the official carrier, DHL Express; Özsoy İnşaat for the implementation of the architectural design; the theme sponsors Hitay Yatırım Holding AŞ and Zorlu Center; and Istanbul Biennial Sponsor Koç Holding. The plaques were presented by Bülent Eczacıbaşı, chairman of the board of İKSV.
After the press conference, curators Jens Hoffmann and Adriano Pedrosa spoke, together with Istanbul Biennial Director Bige Örer, and the curators guided a tour of the biennial exhibition. The biennial artists were present with their work during the press visit.
Besides famous names from the art and business world, more than 4,000 guests, including critics, curators, museum and gallery administrators from international art communities, and up to 400 press members from 50 countries participated in the press conference.
Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011
The visual identity and the title of the 12th Istanbul Biennial—Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011—reference the work of the Cuban American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996), one of the most important artists of the contemporary era.
During his life, Gonzalez-Torres exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions internationally, including the 5th Istanbul Biennial, curated by Rosa Martínez. His innovative artistic language was a source of inspiration for the researches conducted for the 12th Istanbul Biennial. But, although his presence is felt in the biennial’s title, themes, and visual identity, none of his works will be exhibited in the 12th Istanbul Biennial.
The curators of the 12th Istanbul Biennial, to remain in line with Gonzalez-Torres’s idea of “Untitled”, developed a critical position toward preconceived notions of the exhibition and did not declare the list of participating artists until the opening. Thus they proposed to prevent any possible pre-consumption of the exhibition. The 12th Istanbul Biennial aims to draw attention to the importance of the exhibition, the primary format of artistic and curatorial expression, in response to the mentality today favoring ancillary events and programming, especially in a biennial context. The biennial is precisely installed in a single, carefully constructed space, Antrepo 3 and 5, in a manner that privileges the display and juxtaposition of the artworks.
RYUE NISHIZAWA PORTRAIT - Photograph by Nishizwa Takashi Okamoto
The exhibition venue of the 12th Istanbul Biennial is Antrepo 3 and 5, which has hosted the biennial several times since the 4th Istanbul Biennial. The architectural design Office of Ryue Nishizawa transformed the site, dramatically, using steel and drywall constructions to create different-size rooms. During the design process, which started in September 2010, Ryue Nishizawa developed a method to allow visitors to immediately differentiate between the group exhibitions and the solo presentations. The group exhibitions’ walls are painted gray, while the solo presentations’ walls are painted white.
RYUE NISHIZAWA, although still in his 40s, is acknowledged as one of the most important architects in the world today. He founded SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) in 1995 with the architect Kazuyo Sejima. He has maintained the Office of Ryue Nishizawa since 1997. SANAA has won the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Golden Lion Award of the Venice Architecture Biennial. The firm’s projects have included the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2007) in New York, USA; the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) in Kanazawa, Japan; and boutiques of Christian Dior and Prada in Japan.
The five group exhibitions of the 12th Istanbul Biennial are titled Untitled (Abstraction), “Untitled” (Ross), “Untitled” (Passport), Untitled (History), and “Untitled” (Death by Gun). Each departs from a specific work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. More than 50 solo presentations carry further the discussions broached by the group exhibitions.
For the 12th Istanbul Biennial, Koç Holding continues its biennial sponsorship, which started in 2007 and encompasses five biennials. Zorlu Center and Hitay Yatırım Holding AŞ contribute as theme sponsors.
Arçelik AŞ, Divan İstanbul, Polisan Boya Sanayi, and Ticaret AŞ take part as institutions contributing to the biennial.
Many international institutions, especially The Ford Foundation, the US Department of State, Mondriaan Foundation, British Council, The Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs highly contribute to the achievement of the 12th Istanbul Biennial.
The Biennial Companion publication of the 12th Istanbul Biennial includes interviews between the curators and the artists, full explanations of the themes, and full-color photographs. The Biennial Catalogue publication includes texts focusing on the subjects of the exhibition and visuals from the installation. Both are published by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and Yapı Kredi Publishing with the contribution of Vehbi Koç Foundation.
Besides these contributing institutions, Banvit AŞ, Canan Pak, Ford Otomotiv Sanayi AŞ, Grupanya İnternet Hizmetleri İletişim Organizasyon Tanıtım ve Pazarlama AŞ, Koçtaş, Polimeks Holding, Sema-Barbaros Çağa, Tekfen Eğitim Sağlık Kültür Sanat ve Doğa Varlıkları Koruma Vakfı, Türk Henkel AŞ, and United Colors of Benetton contribute to the biennial as special projects sponsors.
In addition to the institutions stated above, the 12th Istanbul Biennial is realized with the contribution of 21 leading business institutions as biennial supporters.
The 12th Istanbul Biennial is supported by the Promotion Fund of the Prime Ministry and the Culture and Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and the Beyoğlu Municipality.
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts official sponsors are leading sponsor Eczacıbaşı Holding; official airline Turkish Airlines; official communication sponsor Vodafone; and official carrier DHL Express. Jon Sueda from Stripe has undertaken the publicity campaign and publications of the 12th Istanbul Biennial.