A city-wide exhibition for everyone: 14th Istanbul Biennial
Hatice Utkan Özden - ISTANBULThe 14th Istanbul Biennial, “SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms,” will open to the public starting Sept. 5 in 30 venues around the city.
While creating the framework of the biennial, festival “draftsperson” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev focused on the thought and the concept of “saltwater,” the Bosphorus and its currents going in opposite directions. Christov-Bakargiev also focused on the history of Istanbul and Bosphorus and how the Bosphorus was made. It is known that the Black Sea was, in ancient times, a lake and that the Bosphorus only opened up around 2500 B.C.
The Bosphorus is a passage – and even means “cow passage” in Greek – Christov-Bakargiev said in an earlier interview with Irene Gludowacz in Parnass and CI Mag. The Bosphorus is a passage where things can crank, move or crack, she added. In the same interview, she said she wanted to refer to all these currents under the surface of modern Turkey when choosing the works and selecting the venues.
Christov-Bakargiev is very careful about choosing words; she does not want people to call her a curator but a “draftsperson.” As such, during a Sept. 2 press conference to promote the biennial, when someone asked “how she selected the venues for the biennial,” Christov-Bakargiev said: “I have never used the word ‘select.’” For her, it is not politically correct to use the word “select.”
Christov-Bakargiev also said the first venue she decided upon was Leon Trotsky’s house on Büyükada, one of Istanbul’s Prince Islands. “[Turkish Nobel Laureate] Orhan Pamuk told me that Trotsky’s house was on Büyükada. I did not know.”
Works at the biennial
The exhibition presents over 1,500 artworks, including commissions by artists as well as other materials from the history of oceanography, environmental studies, marine archaeology, Art Nouveau, neuroscience, physics, mathematics and theosophy, and some crystals that Christov-Bakargiev gathered with a friend at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on Great Salt Lake in early 2015. Works at the biennial range historically from an 1870 painting of waves by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who received a Nobel prize in 1906 for discovering the neuron, to the ground-breaking abstract Thought Forms of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater (1901-1905), a new work by Füsun Onur where a poem is heard on a moving boat, up to a cultural meeting point between Chicago and Istanbul by Theater Gates.
Exhibition venues for the biennial
Exhibition venues for the 14th Istanbul Biennial in the Galata-Tophane-Beyoğlu area include SALT Galata, Vault Karaköy, The House Hotel, Kasa Galeri, Galata Greek Primary School, Istanbul Modern, a floating boat on the Bosphorus, DEPO, two garages on Boğazkesen Street and Çukurcuma Street, a store on Boğazkesen Street, the Museum of Innocence, the Italian High School, The House Hotel Galatasaray, a house on Bostanbaşı Street, the Cezayir building, ARTER, the former Anatolian Passage – which is an outlet of the shoe store FLO – the Pera Museum, a room in the Adahan Hotel and the Adahan Cistern.
The Kabataş-Kadıköy-Büyükada area includes Tunca Subaşı & Çağrı Saray studio in Yeldeğirmeni, the Kaptan Paşa Seabus, the Büyükada Public Library, Splendid Palas, Rizzo Palace, Mizzi Mansion, Çankaya 57, the Trotsky House on Büyükada, as well as the island of Sivriada.
The venues in the Şişli-Old City-Northern Bosphorus area feature the Hrant Dink Foundation and Agos, as well as Hrant Dink Foundation and Agos Center for Parrhesia, the Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam and Rumeli Feneri.
At the same time, three venues, the former French Orphanage and Casa Garibaldi in Beyoğlu, as well as Riva Beach in Beykoz, have been declared venues even though formal access to them is denied due to various reasons.