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  • 16th Istanbul Biennial

    14 September - 10 November 2019

    16th Istanbul Biennial, curated by the eminent art historian and curator, Nicolas Bourriaud. Istanbul Biennial is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding.

    The 16th Istanbul Biennial, with the title The Seventh Continent, will run from 14 September to 10 November 2019 in three spectacular locations across the city: Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum, the Pera Museum in the heart of the city and in a series of historic sites in Büyükada, the largest of the so-called Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara.

    The 2019 Istanbul Biennial Advisory Board members are Iwona Blazwick, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, London; Ayşe Erek, Director of Design Research Graduate Programme, Kadir Has University, Istanbul; Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and Agustín Pérez Rubio, independent curator, former Artistic Director of Museo de Art Latinoamericano, Buenos Aires.

    Fotoğraf: Gizem Özkol / Büyükada

    Photo: Gizem Özkol / Büyükada

    The Seventh Continent

    One of the most visible effects of this new geological era, characterised by the impact of human activities upon the planet is the so-called Seventh Continent. A third of the size of the United States but completely uninhabited, it was discovered in the North Pacific in 1997 by the American oceanographer Charles Moore, a vortex in the sea covering an area of 3.4 million square kilometres contaminated by 7 tons of floating plastic waste.

    Nicolas Bourriaud, one of the co-founders of Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and current director of the Montpellier Contemporain, said: “The 16th Istanbul Biennial will highlight today’s art as an enquiry about global life, a sum of studies about human effects upon the earth. Due to the increasing interconnections between cultures, the development of transportation, the migratory flow, the old centres now shelter a multitude of micro-cultures. The natural elements drift away together, reduced to particles and waste.”

    Phillip Zach - Double_Mouthed, 2019, multichannel video and sound installation

    Phillip Zach – Double_Mouthed, 2019, multichannel video and sound installation


    Pera Museum

    The splendid neo-classical building of the Pera Museum, in the heart of the city, featuring a historic collections of orientalist paintings, Anatolian weights and measures, and Kütahya tiles and ceramics, will be the second venue for the biennial. 

    Pera Müzesi

    Pera Museum

    Just a short walk from the shipyards, the museum will be transformed into an anthropological museum for parallel worlds, a place for fictional archaeology, where artists will reinvent the past.


    The third significant location will be Buyukada, the largest of the nine so-called Princes’ Islands set in the Sea of Marmara, a short ferry ride from the mainland with a total population of just 7,000 people and featuring the remains of a Byzantine palace and monastery. 



    Buyukada became known as the Prince’s Island as a result of its notoriety, history and beauty as early as the 9th century AD. Artworks will be located in houses and old buildings across the island.

    Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum

    Antrepo 5, located on a prime site on the waterfront in the Tophane district of central Istanbul, is a former warehouse with a built area of 17.700 square metres. 

    Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum

    Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum

    Over the last eight years, the building has been undergoing a transformation into a museum for the painting and sculpture collection of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum, which is due to open to the public in 2020.

    Nicolas Bourriaud

    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 École 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.

    Nicolas Bourriaud Fotoğraf: Muhsin Akgün

    Nicolas Bourriaud. Fotoğraf: Muhsin Akgün

    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 réel, 1998)