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Northwestern University

Art in Istanbul

Northwestern artists will play a prominent role at the prestigious Istanbul Biennial in September

The Istanbul Biennial, one of the world’s most comprehensive, prestigious and influential international contemporary art exhibitions, will have a decidedly Northwestern flair this year.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art Theory & Practice, will serve as curator for the Biennial’s 14th edition this fall. In addition, faculty members Michael Rakowitz, Steve Reinke and Irena Knezevic will display their work and team with additional Northwestern colleagues to produce and present a cutting-edge seminar at the Biennial.

In addition, five MFA students from Art Theory & Practice will enjoy a five-week internship program in which they will work closely with artists and provide hands-on assistance to the Biennial’s curatorial project.

“This convergence of curator and artists from our own faculty in this international exhibition provides a singular opportunity to represent the department, Weinberg College and the university in a highly visible and attended artistic and scholarly program,” Art Theory & Practice department chair Inigo Manglano-Ovalle said.

First organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts in 1987, this year’s Biennial will feature new commissions from more than 50 international visual artists and other practitioners, including oceanographers and neuroscientists, at 30 historical venues on both the European side of Istanbul and on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

Under the theme “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms,” the Biennial will consider “different frequencies and patterns of waves, the currents and densities of water, both visible and invisible, that poetically and politically shape and transform the world,” Christov-Bakargiev said.

“With and through art, we mourn, commemorate, denounce, try to heal and we commit ourselves to the possibility of joy and vitality, leaping from form to flourishing life,” she added.

In addition to its rich exhibitions, the Istanbul Biennial will offer a complementary educational program that will feature panel discussions, conferences and workshops. Among these will be “Freshwater/Saltwater: A Seminar on Aesthetics and Waterways,” a two-day seminar Sept. 5-6 hosted by Northwestern University, Weinberg College and the Department of Art Theory & Practice, in cooperation with the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts.

The seminar will explore fundamental aspects and patterns of creative activity in both the arts and sciences through the analysis and study of waves, links and knots in their aesthetic, mathematic and political manifestations. It has received critical support from the Buffet Institute for Global Studies and the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts.

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