While the Danish/Norwegian artist duo formally announced their theme for the upcoming Istanbul Biennale with a 40-person performance in December 2016, more details have since come to light. Exploring community and the evolution of private spheres, “Home is approached as an indicator of diverse identities and a vehicle for self-expression, and Neighbourhood as a micro-universe exemplifying some of the challenges we face in terms of co-existence today,” Elmgreen & Dragset explained at a media conference.
Their artist background will resonate strongly throughout the biennial – as witnessed with the introductory performance which set the tone by asking viewers questions such as, “Is a good neighbour someone you rarely see? Is a good neighbour active in your local community? Someone with no WiFi password and a strong signal? A woman in love, humming as she prepares a meal for her girlfriend? Someone who has a ‘Close the Borders’ sticker on his car?” Community is critical to the duo’s remit – in the traditional sense as well as in reference to the current geopolitical situation, where the platform of a biennial serves as an important base to hone in on collaborative efforts and processes, they asserted.
While further details are due to be released later this month, the event will span 6 venues, include 28 new commissions and 60 artists, 10 of which are Turkish. Elmgreen & Dragset hope to propose a different understanding of what it means to be a good citizen and highlight positive, if alternative, modes of living, including taking a markedly (if contentiously) feminist position. While the stance may induce some interesting local responses given Turkey’s traditional-leaning values, the curating duo feel it a necessity. “Istanbul needs the biennial because the dialogue with the international community has been severely damaged. With the biennial, we hope to show a sign of solidarity,” Elmgreen stated.
Istanbul Biennale will run 16 September-12 November. For more information visit bienal.iksv.org
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