Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011

Untitled is the title of the 12th Biennial for Contemporary Art in Istanbul, Turkey. Both the title and the themes of this year’s Istanbul Biennial reference the work of the Cuban American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. His minimalist and conceptual artistic language was a source of inspiration for the curators of the biennial, Adriano Pedrosa and Jens Hoffmann.

In contrast to other biennials, Untitled is focusing on the exhibition at a single venue, Antrepo. The show is divided into five thematic group exhibitions that depart from specific works by Gonzalez-Torres. Around the group exhibitions, 50 solo preentations are installed, that are thematically connected to the group presentations.

The exhibition architecture has been designed by the Pritzker Award-winning architect Ryue Nishizawa. He transformed the inside of the exhibition venue using steel and drywall constructions.

Among the artists represented at the 12th Istanbul Biennale are Eylem Aladogan, Mark Bradford, Adrian Esparza, Geoffrey Farmer, Dani Gal, Newell Harry, Tim Lee, Renata Lucas, Catherine Opie, Gabriel Sierra, and Ala Younis.

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011. Professional Preview, September 15, 2011. The Biennial runs until November 13, 2011.

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The curators Jens Hoffmann & Adriano Pedrosa on the 12th Istanbul Biennial (Excerpt from the press release):

The 12th Istanbul Biennial explores the rich relationship between art and politics, focusing on artworks that are both formally innovative and politically outspoken. It takes as its point of departure the work of the Cuban American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996). Gonzalez-Torres was deeply attuned to both the personal and the political, and also rigorously attentive to the formal aspects of artistic production, integrating high modernist, minimal, and conceptual references with themes of everyday life.

The biennial is composed of five group exhibitions and more than 50 solo presentations, all housed in a single venue, Antrepo 3 and 5. Each of the group shows””Untitled (Abstraction), “Untitled” (Ross), “Untitled” (Passport), Untitled (History), and “Untitled” (Death by Gun)””departs from a specific work by Gonzalez-Torres. These five works are reproduced in the Companion publication and function as thematic anchors for the biennial. Each group show features a large number of works occupying a single room, and is distinguished by its gray walls from the solo presentations. The solo presentations are linked to one or several subjects of the group exhibitions, and push the themes decidedly further.

Visitors are encouraged to become active readers, not just silent recipients, of the artworks presented here. To paraphrase Gonzalez-Torres, the 12th Istanbul Biennial is untitled because meaning is always changing in time and space. In the spirit of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who genuinely wanted to make this world a better place and believed that his art could be a catalyst for change, we welcome you to the 12th Istanbul Biennial.

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