For Istanbul, September always means the flourishing of the city’s art scene. This year, with the 14th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul has blossomed not only in and around Beyoğlu but throughout the four corners and seven hills. The biennial venues are now spread around 35 locations, from the Old City and the Bosphorus to Büyükada and Kadıköy.
This year’s theme is “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”. And as curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev suggests “With and through art, we mourn, commemorate, denounce, try to heal, and we commit ourselves to the possibility of joy and vitality, of many communities that have co-inhabited these spaces, leaping from form to flourishing life.”
Perhaps the most magnificent pieces of the biennial are by the Trotsky House in Büyükada. Adrian Villar Rojas’ huge sculptures, in which white animals carry degenerate versions on their backs, are placed in the sea. They may remind you of how, against all odds, we manage to walk through life despite our shadows.
That being said, the biennial offers much more than these magnificent sculptures, from the very many notebooks that detail the thought forms of artists and writers to the Beirut-based Marwan Rechmaoui’s columns that reflect our strength to survive war, within and without, at Istanbul Modern.
In short, this year’s biennial is bound to make you contemplate while demanding much more than a day of your time. It is practically impossible to see everything in an afternoon so set aside approximately three days if you want to tour it all, and get ready to be moved.
The 14th Istanbul Biennial can be visited for free until November 1st. For visiting days and hours of specific locations, click
here. Information on venues, events, guided tours and much more are available at the Biennial website.