September 07, 2011

12th Istanbul Biennial

Biennials in the 21st century may well have become sprawling behemoths bogged down by abstruse titles and weighty thematic concerns.

But the curators of the 12th Istanbul Biennial (17 September-13 November) aim to challenge how these vast exhibitions are conceived and developed worldwide.

Rio de Janeiro-born Adriano Pedrosa, the co-curator of the 27th Bienal de São Paulo (2006), and Jens Hoffmann, the director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, will present works by more than 110 artists in five group shows surrounded by clusters of solo exhibitions, 56 in total, at a single central site.

The Antrepo complex of former warehouses, dating from the early 20th century, is on the banks of the Bosphorus alongside the Istanbul Modern.

The art of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the Cuban-US artist who died of an Aids-related illness in 1996, is the stimulus for the ­exhibition.

The group shows are organised under the titles “Untitled (Abstraction)”; “Untitled (History)”; “Untitled (Passport)”; “Untitled (Ross)” and “Untitled (Death by Gun)”, with the latter three sections specifically referring to works by Gonzalez-Torres.

“The beauty of his work is that it was always very political and at the same time very personal and formally progressive,” said Hoffmann. The art of politics The 12th edition follows in the tradition of previous biennials that have also explored a ­political dimension.

Pedrosa and Hoffmann stress that they want to contextualise the event in relation to earlier Istanbul biennials and other international exhibitions.

Read more on The Art Newspaper: 12th Istanbul Biennial

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