After Berlin Biennial, Manifesta, and Shanghai Biennial, the Istanbul Biennial is jumping on the bandwagon of artist-curated biennials. The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts announced today that the 15th edition of the biennial will be curated by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset.
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, have a longstanding history of participating in perennial shows. Their work has been included in the Istanbul (2013, 2011, 2001), Liverpool (2012), Singapore (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Venice (2009, 2003), Gwangju (2006, 2002), São Paulo (2002), and Berlin (1998) biennials.
That included acting as curators of the Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, marking the first-ever merging of two national pavilions to present a single exhibition entitled “The Collectors”.
The Istanbul Biennial will be the largest and most ambitious curatorial project undertaken by the duo. However, the Mr. Elmgreen and Mr. Dragset have extensive experience of acting as curators, producers or artistic directors of large-scale projects, many of which eschewed traditional demarcations of artistic and curatorial practices.
In 2013, the duo curated “A Space Called Public”, a wide-ranging temporary public art project throughout the city of Munich, with the aim of generating a new conversation about the concept of public space today. The same year, with their exhibition “Tomorrow” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the artists designed a setting in which they staged paintings, furniture, and artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection. Earlier curatorial projects include “Not a Drop But the Fall”, together with Susanne Pfeffer, Künstlerhaus Bremen (2005) and “Update”, a performance-based festival that was part of Copenhagen’s European Capitals of Culture program (1996). The artists are currently in the process of curating the exhibition “The Others”, opening at König Galerie in Berlin in September 2016.
Other collaborative projects include the artistic direction of the operas “L’Amour de Loin” at the Bergen International Festival (2008) and “Faustus, The Last Night” at Staatsoper, Berlin (2008), Opéra de Lyon (2006), and Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris (2006). The duo’s theater plays include “Drama Queens”, first performed at Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007), and “Happy Days in the Art World”, a Performa Commission for Performa 11 (2011).
Elmgreen & Dragset’s recent solo exhibitions include “Van Gogh’s Ear”, an upright swimming pool sculpture installed at New York City’s Rockefeller Center (Public Art Fund, 2016); “The Well Fair”, a fictional art fair staged in the Great Hall of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2016); and “Aéroport Mille Plateaux”, a Deleuze-inspired airport terminal at PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul (2015).
The conceptual framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial will be announced at a press meeting to be held in fall 2016. The media preview of the biennial will be on 13 September, and the professional preview on 14 and 15 September 2017.