Istanbul Biennial; the tip of the red thread

The 11th International İstanbul Biennial will gather art enthusiasts from all around the world one more time in İstanbul. The Biennial is curated by WHW/ What, How & for Whom curatorial collective based in the city of Zagreb, Croatia.

Organized by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts under the sponsorship of Koç Holding, the Biennial opens on 12 September.  The Red Thread exhibition which was organized in Berlin one and a half years ago gave us the clues of the general outline of the Biennial. Now the tip of the thread is visible: The Biennial focuses mainly on geographical locations such as the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless one should always bear in mind that the thread may bulge and bifurcate.

What Keeps Mankind Alive?
The 11th International Istanbul Biennial takes its title from the song “Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?” which is translated into English as “What Keeps Mankind Alive?” The song was written by Berthold Brecht for his “Threepenny Opera” in 1928 in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann and Kurt Weill.  However WHW underlines time and does not aim to rediscover Brecht and refer him as a classic that should be introduced to coming generations. In their own words, their aim is “to think about the aspects of the past which are hidden in the contemporary and to evaluate the relationship of art with social engagement and aesthetic gesture to look for possibilities of founding new ones...”

As to what awaits the audience in Istanbul, we can generalize as 120 projects of 70 well known and upcoming artists or artist collectives of  the world contemporary art scene. WHW puts a great emphasis on balance between generations and diversity. This is why they try to bring together contemporary artists with the artists of 1960s. The Biennial closes on 8 November Nevertheless it’s advisable to be prepared for WHW’s surprises.

Biennial locations:
The 11th International İstanbul Biennial will take place in three main locations. The first one is the Antrepo No:3 of İstanbul Maritime Lines in Fındıklı, which has been hosting a number of biennials to date. The second one is the Tobacco Warehouse in Tophane which was discovered during the 9th Biennial. And the last one is the Feriköy Greek School in Şişli. The school was opened in 1875 at Feriköt Avukat Street and was moved to Abide-i Hürriyet Boulevard in 1900. It was closed since 2003 due to lack of students.

Students will be able to visit Biennial venues free of charge by producing their student ID.

A special tribute to Yüksel Arslan from WHW:
“We are very happy to be able to exhibit the works of Yüksel Arslan. The fact that his various researches on art often include references to literature, history and philosophy makes his existence extremely valuable and unique. We believe that, especially his sensitivity as an artist is evocative and interesting. An elaborate compilation of his mixed media series entitled “Capital” based on Karl Marx’s Capital will be on exhibit. Produced in 1970s, the series still preserve a sharp and intolerant vision on the paradoxes of the capitalist society.”