Istanbul Biennial Pushed to 2022

May 06, 2021

The Istanbul Biennial has announced the postponement of the physical edition of its seventeenth iteration, slated to open this fall, to 2022, owing to a spike in Covid-19 cases in Turkey. The new dates for the biennial are September 17–November 20, 2022. The decision was taken by the event’s organizer, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (ISKV), in consultation with its participants and partners, and with the show’s curators, Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar, and David Teh.

“The 17th Istanbul Biennial, its curators and participants continue to be affected by the pandemic and its life-altering consequences,” the ISKV acknowledged in a statement. To date, Turkey has reported more than 4.9 million Covid cases and over 41,000 virus-related deaths, ArtAsiaPacific notes. The country at the end of April was reporting more than 60,000 Covid cases per day, the highest number in Europe. The surge spurred the government there to order a three-week lockdown from April 29. At present only 12 percent of the Turkish population is vaccinated.

The ISKV has said that the biennial will continue to “act as a seedbed” for other projects, at least some of them presumably virtual, scheduled to take place throughout the remainder of 2021. No details have yet been released regarding these endeavors. The theme of the now-delayed biennial, revealed in March, is ecological in nature. “Let this biennial be compost,” the curators had earlier declared, perhaps presciently asserting, “There may be no great gathering, no orchestrated coming together in one time and place; instead it might be a dispersal, an invisible fermentation.”