16th Istanbul Biennial unveils title

16th Istanbul Biennial unveils title

16th Istanbul Biennial unveils title

The 16th Istanbul Biennial’s title and conceptual framework was announced by the curator Nicolas Bourriaud at a press conference on Dec. 11. Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding, the 16th Istanbul Biennial will take place between Sept. 14 and Nov. 10, 2019. 

At the press conference, Istanbul Biennial Director and İKSV’s Contemporary Art Projects Director Bige Örer welcomed guests before leaving the stage to Bourriaud to announce the biennial’s title as “The Seventh Continent.” A part of the film “Uccellacci e Uccellini,” directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, was also screened at the press conference where İKSV General Director Görgün Taner was also present. 

The 148-year-old Lycée Français Privé Saint-Joseph d’Istanbul, where the press conference was held, is home to one of the most extensive collections of natural sciences in Turkey, the Natural Sciences Center. Guests who attended the press conference also had the opportunity to visit the center showcasing Turkey’s biodiversity, and the “Gece / Nuit” exhibition currently on view at the school. The collection contains over 30,000 animal and 40,000 plant species, as well as around 5,000 minerals and fossils from Turkey, a majority of which are currently endangered or extinct. 

The seventh continent 

One of the most visible effects of the Anthropocene, the new geological era characterized by the impact of human activities upon the planet, is the formation of a huge mass of waste that has been called The Seventh Continent, 3.4 million square kilometers and 7 million tons of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean. 

The 16th Istanbul Biennial will explore this new continent: A world where humans and non-humans, our mass-productive systems and natural elements, drift together, reduced to particles of waste. 

Today, we are acknowledging that the canonical western division between nature and culture has come to an end. The Anthropocene theory has contributed to this awareness, as the impact of human activities on nature generates an intertwined world where culture is reintegrating into nature, and vice-versa. Meanwhile, due to the increasing interconnections between cultures, as well as the development of transportation and migratory flows,  the old centers are turning into metabolisms sheltering a multitude of micro-cultures. 

The Seventh Continent is an anthropology of an off-centered world and an archaeology of our times. It defines today’s art as an archipelago of diverse enquiries into global life, tracking the prints of human activity on the earth and our impact on its non-human inhabitants. 

About the curator 

The curator of the 16th Istanbul Biennial is the director of Montpellier Contemporain (MoCo), an institution he created, gathering the La Panacée art center, the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the future MoCo Museum, which will be opened in June 2019.


He was the director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris from 2011 to 2015. From 2010 to 2011, he headed the studies department at the Culture Ministry in France. He was Gulbenkian Curator for Contemporary Art at Tate Britain in London from 2007 to 2010 and founding advisor for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev. He also founded and co-directed the Palais de Tokyo in Paris between 1999 and 2006.