Via Instanbul The Guide
The 12th Istanbul Biennial came in much secrecy but it was totally worth the anxious wait. In the press opening, curators Jens Hoffmann and Adriano Pedrosa stated that the reason for the secrecy was to prevent pre-consumption of the artists and their works. This year, it was not only the secrecy that was new but also the decision in limiting the exhibition spaces. The show used to be scattered around the city, taking advantage of its intricate urban structure; however, this time around the curators chose to house the exhibitions in two large warehouses in Tophane, famously known as Antrepo 3 and Antrepo 5.
When: September 17–November 13
Having cut down on the exhibition spaces, the curators commissioned the Office of Ryue Nishizawa to design the interior. The unique architecture clearly reflects some aspects of Istanbul. Rooms of different sizes leading one into passageways, shortcuts, and multiple rooms create distinct interior-exterior relationships. The architecture, thus, manages to create the city structure that it borrows from Istanbul, while adding a touch of Gonzales-Torres’s minimal and elegant approach to art.
The Cuban American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) is the point of departure of the 12th Istanbul Biennial. Gonzalez-Torres was one of those artists who constantly demonstrated that the personal is political. As in previous years, the twelfth edition of the Biennial delves into the relationship between art and politics. There are both politically outspoken works, and formally innovative and curious art pieces. One of the refreshing aspects of the Biennial is its balanced use of diverse artistic mediums.
The venue houses 5 group exhibitions and 50 solo shows. Each of the group exhibitions are marked by gray walls, occupying a room for each subdivision: Untitled (Death by Gun), Untitled (Ross), Untitled (History), Untitled (Passport), and Untitled (Abstraction). Marked by white walls, the solo shows are situated around the group exhibitions. All continents are represented in the show but there is a special focus on Latin America and the Middle East.
There are many historically crucial artworks at the Biennial. For instance, in the section Untitled (Death by Gun), there is Street Execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner taken in three frames by the American photojournalist Eddie Adams in 1968. As shocking and gruesome as they were, these photographs brought a much-needed discussion around the Vietnam War.
Bullet Hole | Photo by Cemre Mert