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.
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.
Displayed 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.
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.
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