Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Istanbul Bienniale's 10th Anniversary

Istanbul's location – as the gateway between Europe and Asia – is key to its 10 year old Biennial. Unlike Venice, where the emphasis is on national pavilions, this event is firmly rooted in the city itself and is more concerned with involving the local community than wooing the international art crowd.

This year, San Francisco's star curator Hou Hanru has been invited to curate. His idea to free the event from the constraints of an umbrella theme has become a leitmotif this summer, with Documenta's curator, Roger Buergel, doing the same. Hanru envisages his Biennial as having a focus on architecture and urban issues but largely as a platform for ideas and dialogue. The emphasis is on site specific work and reinterpreting the city. Hanrou was inspired by Istanbul's modern buildings and chose these culturally and politically significant places to house the art. Few of the chosen sites like the Atatürk Cultural Center and the Textile Market appear on tourist maps. They are part of the city that remains overlooked.

Hanru devised 'Nightcomers,' a selection of videos that will be projected around the city at night. Considering Istanbul's wild night life there's no doubt these will be seen by many.

Here are some examples of the pieces to be exhibited during the Biennial.

— Constance Wyndham

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