The 16th Istanbul Biennial’s title and conceptual framework was announced by the curator Nicolas Bourriaud at a press conference on Tuesday, 11 December at Lycée Français Privé Saint-Joseph d’Istanbul. Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding, the 16th Istanbul Biennial will take place between 14 September and 10 November 2019.
The 16th Istanbul Biennial is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding as well as other supporters, international funders, and funding bodies to be announced.
The media preview of the biennial will be held on 10-13 September 2019, and professional preview on 12-13 September 2019.
The Istanbul Biennial Advisory Board members include Iwona Blazwick, Ayşe Erek, Yuko Hasegawa and Agustín Pérez Rubio.
At the press conference, Nicolas Bourriaud announced the biennial’s title as ‘The Seventh Continent’.
The 148-years-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 Centre. Guests who attended the press conference also had the opportunity to visit the centre showcasing Turkey’s biodiversity, and the Gece / Nuit exhibition currently on view at the school. The collection contains over 30 thousand animal and 40 thousand plant species, as well as close to 5 thousand minerals and fossils from Turkey, majority of which are currently endangered or extinct.
THE SEVENTH CONTINENT
One of the most visible effects of the Anthropocene, the new geological era characterised 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 kilometres, 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 centres are turning into megapolises sheltering a multitude of micro-cultures.
‘The Seventh Continent’ is an anthropology of an off-centred 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.
Nicolas Bourriaud, born in 1965, is a curator and writer. He is the director of Montpellier Contemporain (MoCo), an institution he created, gathering the La Panacée art centre, 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 Ministry of Culture in France. He was Gulbenkian Curator for Contemporary Art at Tate Britain in London from 2007 to 2010 and founder advisor for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev. He also founded and co-directed the Palais de Tokyo, Paris between 1999 and 2006.
Bourriaud’s recent exhibitions include Crash Test, La Panacée (2018); Back to Mulholland Drive, La Panacée (2017); Wirikuta, MECA Aguascalientes, Mexico (2016); The Great Acceleration / Art in the Anthropocene, Taipei Biennial (2014); The Angel of History, Palais des Beaux-Arts (2013); Monodrome, Athens Biennial (2011) and Altermodern, Tate Triennial, London (2009). Nicolas Bourriaud was also in the curatorial team of the first and second Moscow Biennials in 2005 and 2007. His selected books are The Exform (Verso, 2016); Radicant (Sternberg Press, 2009); Postproduction (Lukas & Sternberg, 2002); Formes de vie: L’art moderne et l’invention de soi (Denoel, 1999) and Relational Aesthetics (Presses du reel, 1998).