Nicolas Bourriaud to Curate the 16th Istanbul Biennial
By HG Masters
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) announced on May 9 that the curator of the 16th Istanbul Biennial will be Nicolas Bourriaud. Bourriaud is best known for his development of the idea of “relational aesthetics,” which he discusses in his 1998 book of the same title, based on a generation of artists whose practices required the participation of viewers, often in casual social settings.
Bourriaud founded and ran the French art magazine Sur l’Art from 1992 to 2000. He was one of 13 co-curators of the “Aperto ’93” exhibition at the 1993 Venice Biennale, where Rirkrit Tiravanija prepared curry for visitors to eat as a form of participation. Bourriaud and Jerome Sans co-founded the Palais de Tokyo in 2002 at a time when Paris had limited venues for contemporary art and few experimental platforms. He was then the Gulbenkian curator of contemporary art from 2008 to 2010 at London’s Tate Britain and directed the 2009 Tate Triennial, titled “Altermodern.” In 2014, he curated the Taipei Biennial, “The Great Acceleration,” reflecting on the idea of the anthropocene.
In 2015, Bourriaud was fired from his position as director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts by the French Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, reportedly at the behest of the romantic partner of the country's then-president François Hollande. He is currently the director of Montpellier Contemporain. He was quoted in the press release from İKSV as saying, “As a crossing point, the city of Istanbul takes a specific signification today, in a global political era marked by binary thought. I will try to build an exhibition that measures up to our historical situation.” The biennial opens to the public on September 14, 2019.
HG Masters is ArtAsiaPacific’s editor-at-large.
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