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14th Istanbul Biennial

SALTWATER. A Theory of Thought Forms

SAHA supported the production of new works by artists from Turkey invited to the 14th Istanbul Biennial.  The İsanbul Biennial is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), and is held between the 5th of September and the 1st of November 2015.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev states, “Salt water is one of the most ubiquitous materials in the world. Sodium in our bodies makes our neurological system, and thus our vital systems, work; it literally keeps us alive. At the same time, salt water is the most corrosive material threat to the digital age: if you drop your smart phone in fresh water, you can dry it and it will probably work again. If it falls into salt water, chemical molecular changes in the materials of your phone will break it. When you visit the 14th Istanbul Biennial, you will spend quite a bit of time on salt water. There is a slowing down of the experience of art due to the travel between venues, especially on ferries. That is very healthy: salt water helps to heal respiration problems and many other illnesses, as well as calming the nerves.

This sprawling exhibition spans from Rumelifeneri on the Black Sea, where Jason and the Argonauts passed searching for the Golden Fleece, through the winding and narrow Bosphorus, a seismic fault line which opened as a water channel some 8500 years ago, and down to the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara towards the Mediterranean, where ancient Byzantine emperors exiled their enemies and where Leon Trotsky lived for four years from 1929 to 1933. It presents over 1500 artworks, some very tiny, including over fifty commissions by artists as well as other visible and invisible manifestations such as materials from the history of oceanography, environmental studies, marine archaeology, Art Nouveau, neuroscience, physics, mathematics and theosophy. Works range historically from an 1870 painting of waves by Santiago Ramón 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), up to a new installation by Aslı Çavuşoğlu which reflects on an ancient and lost Armenian technique for extracting red dye from an insect, and a new multichannel installation by William Kentridge inspired by Trostky’s passage through Turkey.”

Supported Artists from Turkey and the Biennial Venues

Meriç Algün Ringborg (ADAHAN Hotel), Hera Büyüktaşçıyan (Galata Greek Primary School), Taner Ceylan (Istanbul Modern), Cansu Çakar (FLO Building / Anatolian Passage), Aslı Çavuşoğlu (Istanbul Modern), Elmas Deniz (Istanbul Modern), Cevdet Erek (Garage / Tophane), Esra Ersen (The Italian High School), Deniz Gül (House / Bostanbaşı Street No.30), Emre Hüner (Galata Greek Primary School), Merve Kılıçer (Büyükada Public Library), Füsun Onur (Fishing Boat), İz Öztat & Belkıs Işık (The Italian High School), Zeyno Pekünlü (SALT Galata), Pelin Tan (ADAHAN Cistern), Pınar Yoldaş (Kaptan Paşa Sea Bus), Artıkişler Kolektifi - Özge Çelikaslan & Alper Şen (Istanbul Modern & Tunca Subaşı & Çağrı Saray Studio).

About Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is an author, an organizer of events and exhibitions, and a researcher of artistic practices, the histories of art and the politics of aesthetics. She is the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University (2013–15). She received the Leverhulme Professorship from the University of Leeds for 2014. In 2013, she was the Menschel Visiting Professor in Art at The Cooper Union, New York, as well as the Pernod Ricard Visiting Professor in the philosophy of art and naturecultures at the Goethe - Universität Frankfurt am Main / Institut für Philosophie. She has lectured widely on the relationship between the arts and the sciences, including most recently at Harvard University (2014). From 2009 to 2012, she was the artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13) which took place in 2012 in Kassel, Germany as well as in Kabul, Afghanistan; Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt; and Banff, Canada. Previously, Christov-Bakargiev was the artistic director of the 16th Biennale of Sydney (Revolutions—Forms That Turn, 2008) and chief curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art (2002–8, interim director in 2009). She was senior curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, a MoMA affiliate in New York, from 1999 to 2001. Other group exhibitions she has organized include The Moderns, Turin (2003), Faces in the Crowd, London and Turin (2004), Citta’ Natura (1997), and Molteplici Culture (1992). Her books include William Kentridge (1998), Arte Povera (1999), and for dOCUMENTA (13) the 100 Notes—100 Thoughts series as well as The Logbook and The Book of Books (2011–12).