The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has been organising the Istanbul Biennial since 1987. The Biennial aims to create a meeting point in Istanbul in the field of visual arts between artists from diverse cultures and the audience. The biennials IKSV has organised up to now have enabled the formation of an international cultural network between local and international art circles, artists, curators and art critics by bringing together new trends in contemporary art every two years.
Considered as one of the more prestigious biennials alongside Venice, Sao Paolo and Sydney, the Istanbul Biennial prefers an exhibition model which enables a dialogue between artists and the audience through the work of the artists instead of a national representation model. The curator, appointed by an international advisory board, develops a conceptual framework according to which a variety of artists and projects are invited to the exhibition. The most comprehensive international art exhibition organized both in Turkey and throughout the geographical sphere the Istanbul Biennial plays an important role in the promotion of contemporary artists not only from Turkey but from a number of different countries in the international arena.
The opportunity to follow developments and discussions in the art world, and therefore a complimentary educational program is provided both for students and viewers of art through the exhibitions and simultaneously translated panel discussions, conferences and workshops organised within the scope of the exhibitions.
After the first two biennials realised under the general coordination of Beral Madra in 1987 and 1989, IKSV decided to adapt a single curator system following the Istanbbul Biennial directed by Vasıf Kortun in 1992. The Biennial was organised under the curatorship of René Block in 1995, Rosa Martínez in 1997, Paolo Colombo in 1999, Yuko Hasegawa in 2001, Dan Cameron in 2003, Charles Esche and Vasıf Kortun in 2005 and Hou Hanru in 2007 , What, How & for Whom / WHW in 2009, and Jens Hoffmann & Adriano Pedrosa in 2011.