Istanbul Biennial 14 Announce International Participants Projects and Programmes

The 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) opens to the public on 5 September 2015. The biennial, drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with a number of alliances, presents over 1,500 artworks by over 80 participants from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America. The biennial will be open until 1 November 2015.

Encompassing 36 venues on the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, SALTWATER takes place in museums as well as temporary spaces of habitation on land and on sea such as boats, hotels, former banks, garages, gardens, schools, shops and private homes. 

The media conference of the 14th Istanbul Biennial was held at the Italian High School on Wednesday, 2 September. İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı and Istanbul Biennial Director Bige Örer delivered brief opening speeches. The media conference continued with the speech of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, draftsperson of the 14th Istanbul Biennial, providing detailed information regarding the biennial. Members of the biennial team were also present on stage during the conference.

SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev: “This citywide exhibition on the Bosphorus hovers around a material– salt water –and the contrasting images of knots and of waves. It looks for where to draw the line, to withdraw, to draw upon, and to draw out. It does so offshore, on  the flat surfaces of our devices with our fingertips, but also in the depths, underwater, before the enfolded encoding unfolds.

It considers different frequencies and patterns of waves, the currents and densities of water, both visible and invisible that poetically and politically shape and transform the world. There are arrested movements that suspend time (the knots of human transport across seas and oceans, the knots of war, of labour, of ethnic cleansing) and there are repetitive and dispersive movements like waves (waves of uprisings, waves of ‘jouissance’, electro-magnetic waves). There are literal waves of water, but also waves of people, of emotion and memory. It is through the identification of waves that we acknowledge patterns –underwater patterns of water, or patterns of wind. Perhaps a wave is simply time –the feeling of a difference between its high and low points able to mark the experience of time, and thus of space, and thus of life. 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 this space, leaping from form to flourishing life.”

14th Istanbul Biennial venues will be displaying in the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, SALTWATER takes place in museums as well as temporary spaces of habitation on land and on sea such as boats, hotels, former banks, garages, gardens, schools, shops and private houses. There are venues where the visitors will encounter a group exhibition, such as Istanbul Modern, ARTER, the Italian High School, and the Galata Greek Primary School, but most locations host the work of a single artist or artist collective. 

Exhibition venues at the Galata-Tophane-Beyoğlu route are: SALT Galata, Vault Karaköy The House Hotel, Kasa Galeri, Galata Greek Primary School, Istanbul Modern, a floating boat on Bosphorus, DEPO, two garageson Boğazkesen Street and Çukurcuma Street and a store on Boğazkesen Street, the Museum of Innocence, the Italian High School, one of three fictional venues of the biennial French Orphanage, The House Hotel Galatasaray, a house on Bostanbaşı Street, Cezayir building, another fictional venue of the biennial Casa Garibaldi, ARTER, once the Anatolian Passage and now a shoe store FLO Building, Pera Museum, a room in the Adahan Hotel and the Adahan Cistern. 

Kabataş-Kadıköy-Büyükada route includes Tunca Subaşı & Çağrı Saray studio in Yeldeğirmeni, Kaptan Paşa Seabus, Büyükada Public Library, Splendid Palas, Rizzo Palace, Mizzi Mansion, Çankaya 57, and Trotsky House in Büyükada, and also  Sivriada.  

The venues in Şişli-the Old City-the Northern Bosphorus route are: Hrant Dink Foundation and Agos as well as Hrant Dink Foundation and Agos – Centre for Parrhesia, Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hammam, Rumeli Feneri, and another fictional venue of the biennial Riva Beach.

Finally, a provisional biennial venue will be Kastellorizo, a Greek island two kilometres away from the Turkish coast. The weeklong project in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust titled “The violent No! of the sun burns the forehead of hills. Sand fleas arrive from salt lake and most of the theatres close” will take place there from 7 to 13 September 2015. 

14th Istanbul Biennial Participants and Projects: The exhibition presents over 1,500 artworks, including commissions by artists as well as other materials from the history of oceanography, environmental studies, marine archaeology, Art Nouveau, neuroscience, physics, mathematics and theosophy, and some crystals that Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev gathered with a friend at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake in early 2015. 

Works at the biennial range historically from an 1870 painting of waves by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who received a Nobel prize in 1906 for discovering the neuron, to the ground-breaking abstract Thought Forms of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater (1901-1905), a new work by Füsun Onur where a poem is heard on a moving boat, up to a cultural meeting point between Chicago and Istanbul by Theaster Gates.

Amongst the most evident artistic projects to explore irregular wave patterns and organic growth is the work of Christine Taylor Patten, a series of 1,000 tiny one-inch square drawings titled ‘micros’ with minimal materials such as  a crow-quill  pen and black ink on paper. Anna Boghiguian’s The Salt Traders, a grand, sculptural installation of old sails, paintings, drawings, fragments of a boat and sound  recordings, Cevdet Erek’s new installation A Room of Rhythms – Otopark  in an old car park built in 1940 in Tophane, the last episode of Wael Shawky’s epic video trilogy, Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala, that will include glimpses of the Battle of Karbala,  a sculptural installation of crates from which art objects seem to have escaped, referring to the need for art to be freed from its hoarding in the age of creative capitalism by Walid Raad in a former bank vault on Bankalar Street, Kasa Galeri, William Kentridge’s new multi-channel video and sculptural installation, inspired by the presence and exile of Leon Trotsky on Büyükada island in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Adrián Villar Rojas who creates monumental sculptures emplaced in the sea by the shore of the Trotsky House in Büyükada, and Pierre Huyghe’s Abyssal Plain, a long-term underwater project.

Conversations between different fields of knowledge occur  in a long, narrow space that Carolyn Christov Bakargiev calls the Channel, where works range from those by oceanographer Emin Özsoy, and Jeffrey Peakall to D’Aronco’s drawings and drawings of knots made by Jacques Lacan in the 1970’s, alongside the ‘knotty’ paintings of Brazilian artist Frans Krajcberg, as well as a selection of late nineteenth- century Art Nouveau vases by Émile Gallé and drawings by Patrick Blanc for his vertical gardens will be displayed.

The biennial speaks about the transformative agency and potential that art can have, its ‘use-ability’, through the struggles for Aboriginal rights of the Yolngu people of North-east Arnhem Land in Queensland, and how their struggles  have resulted  in laws being changed and rights being acknowledged throughout Australia. A selection of Yirrkala drawings including a colourful series of drawings on brown paper made in 1947, the Bark Petitions of 1963, and the Saltwater Paintings of 1998–2008, are displayed. 

The 14th Istanbul Biennial is drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. Interlocutors and alliances include Anna Boghiguian, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Cevdet Erek, Bracha L. Ettinger, Pierre Huyghe, Emre Hüner, William Irvine, William Kentridge, Marcos Lutyens, Chus Martínez, Füsun Onur, Emin Özsoy, Griselda Pollock, Michael Rakowitz, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran and Elvan Zabunyan.

Speech Acts and Forms of Discourse offers opportunities for public engagement with artists, scientists, curators, philosophers, and other cultural activists through round table discussions, seminars, oral presentations, conversations with the audience, group readings, guided tours, and programs for children. Detailed programme of Speech Acts and Forms of Discourse can be found at

The film programme will be held free of charge throughout the biennial at the Istanbul Modern Cinema. Feature films are programmed by Müge Turan and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, films and artists’ works are paired by James Richards. This programme is conceived as a series of pairings between feature films and artists’ films and videos around four themes:  Eco-Fi, Subaquatic, Survival, and Life by the Shore. 

There will be video screenings from 2 September on and feature films from 10 September on in the programme, which encompasses a wide range from silent movies to documentaries and from box office busters to the classics of the European and American movies. 

As part of the programme, biennial participants’ films such as, Tacita Dean’s JG (2013), Guido Wan Der Werve’s Nummer Veertien, home (2012) and also Marguerite Duras’s L’homme Atlantique, 1981 can be watched.  The full film programme can be found at 


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