The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art, which organized the biennial, was created in 1973 under the guidance of Dr. Nejat F. Eczacbaş with the goal of creating an annual international art festival (music, jazz, film, theater, visual arts). The city’s privileged position as a crossroads between Europe and Asia, east and west, appeared to predetermine it as a site for intercultural exchange through the events like Istanbul Biennial.
For the very first time, Istanbul Biennial was held in June and July 1973 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic’s founding. Individual events in every field began to branch off beginning with the film festival in 1984, but stayed under the cover of the organization.
In 1987, the first biennial of visual arts was organized. Beral Madra, an Istanbul native who served as general coordinator and curator for this and subsequent editions, was in charge of both. Because the city lacked major exhibition facilities, the second biennial made a virtue of necessity, and with the motto “Contemporary Art in Traditional Spaces,” historical structures began to be imaginatively integrated. Since then, the Istanbul Biennial has developed into a one-of-a-kind and very intriguing feature.
The Istanbul Biennial in Turkey has suspended its 17th edition, citing the “gravity of the ongoing health situation.” The show, which was originally scheduled to start in September, will now run from September 17 until November 20, 2022. The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (ISKV), the event’s organiser, made the decision in consultation with the curators—Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar, and David Teh—and participants.
“The 17th Istanbul Biennial, its curators and participants continue to be affected by the pandemic and its life-altering consequences,” the ISKV stated.
The Istanbul Biennial has been postponed along with other important exhibitions throughout the world owing to the coronavirus outbreak. The Venice Biennale in Italy, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and the Whitney Biennial in New York are among the events whose editions are expected to be postponed.