The 12th Istanbul Biennial, ranked among the most important art events in Europe along with the Venice Biennale, will turn Istanbul once again into an art platform being watched with interest by the world art communities starting in the month of September. The title of this edition is Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011. The title, the visual identity, and the themes of the biennial reference the work of the Cuban American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, one of the most important artists of the contemporary era. During his life Gonzalez-Torres exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions internationally, including the 5th Istanbul Biennial, curated by Rosa Martínez. Gonzalez-Torres’s minimalist and conceptual artistic language is both formally innovative and explicitly political, and was a source of inspiration for the researches conducted for the 12th Istanbul Biennial.

The 12th Istanbul Biennial aims at drawing attention to the importance of the exhibition, the primary format of artistic and curatorial expression, in response to the mentality today favouring ancillary events and programming, especially in a biennial context. It will be precisely installed in a single, carefully constructed space, Antrepo, in a manner that privileges the display and juxtaposition of the artworks.

To remain in line with Gonzalez-Torres’s idea of “Untitled” and his desire to circumvent established artistic and political conventions, the names of the artists will remain undisclosed until the biennial’s opening. A critical position toward preconceived notions of the exhibition is a fundamental part of the curatorial premise, particularly with respect to a possible consumption of the exhibition via a list of the artists, the names of the curators, or the title of the show.

The 12th Istanbul Biennial will also host many important names in global contemporary art. Nearly 4,000 guests, including artists, critics, curators, and museum and gallery managers from international art communities as well as international press members will be in Istanbul during the opening week to see the Istanbul Biennial.

Koç Holding continues its 10-year Biennial Sponsorship, having started in 2007 and including five biennials with the 12th Istanbul Biennial. Koç Holding will assume the sponsorship of three more Istanbul Biennials to be realized until 2016.

The 12th Istanbul Biennial themes
The 12th Istanbul Biennial will be composed of five group exhibitions, around which more than 50 solo presentations will be installed. Each of the five group shows will feature a large number of artists’ works brought together under a particular argument. These group shows-Untitled (Abstraction), “Untitled” (Ross),“Untitled” (Passport), Untitled (History) and “Untitled” (Death by Gun)-depart from specific works by Gonzalez-Torres that will be reproduced in the Biennial Companion publication.

The group displays will have the character of cabinet exhibitions, each occupying a distinct space. Together they will function as thematic anchors for the five biennial sections. Each solo presentation will be linked to the subjects of the group shows, but will push the themes further, exploring the subjects the group exhibitions have introduced.

Untitled (Abstraction) is inspired by Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (Bloodwork-Steady Decline) (1994, graphite and gouache on paper, framed)and gathers works that subvert pure abstraction and the high-modernist grid by bringing in political and bodily themes.

“Untitled” (Ross) departs from “Untitled”(Ross) (1991, candies individually wrapped in variously colored cellophane, endless supply), an endless supply of candies individually wrapped in variously colored cellophane. The deliberately cryptic title of the exhibition is an homage to Ross Laycock, Gonzalez-Torres’s lover, who appears in the titles of several of the artist’s works. The exhibition blends the personal into the political, exploring themes of gay love, relations, family, identity, desire, sexuality, and loss.

“Untitled” (Passport) is inspired by “Untitled” (Passport #II) (1993, print on paper, bound in booklets, endless copies), a work consisting of endless copies of bound booklets. It revolves around subjects such as national identity, the trespassing of borders, mapping, statehood, economic migration, and political and cultural alienation.

Untitled (History) is inspired by the framed photostat “Untitled” (1988). It focuses on the writing of history, history’s writing, and alternative readings of history.

“Untitled” (Death by Gun) is inspired by the “stack piece” of the same title by Gonzalez-Torres (1990, print on paper, endless copies). This group exhibition reflects on the rampant spread of worldwide gun violence through a diverse array of historic and contemporary artworks that focus on the role of the gun, the murderer, and the victim.

The venue
The venues of the 12th Istanbul Biennial will open to art lovers on Saturday, September 17, and they will be Antrepo 3 and 5 in the area belonging to Istanbul Maritime Lines in Tophane. 

The architectural design of the biennial venues has been realized by the Architectural Design Office of Ryue Nishizawa. The inside of Antrepo 3 and 5 is being transformed into an impressive exhibition area with steel and drywall constructions. Nishizawa is also working on a method that will enable the audience to perceive the group and solo exhibitions separately.

Nishizawa, although still in his 40s, is acknowledged as one of the most important architects in the world today. He founded SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) in 1995 with the architect Kazuyo Sejima. He has maintained the Office of Ryue Nishizawa since 1997. SANAA has won the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Golden Lion Award of the Venice Architecture Biennial. The firm’s projects have included the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2007) in New York, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) in Kanazawa, Japan, and boutiques of Christian Dior and Prada in Japan.

Biennial Venue: Antrepo 3 and 5 (Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi, Liman İşletmeleri Sahası, Karaköy). The biennial open hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00-19:00. It is closed Mondays. On Thursdays it remains open until 22:00.

University students visit the biennial with the support of Koç Holding
During the 12th Istanbul Biennial, university students who show their student IDs at the ticket offices in Antrepo will be able to enter free of charge courtesy of the Istanbul Biennial sponsor, Koç Holding.

Education programs for little art lovers
IKSV and Pace Art Center will realize education programs for children within the context of the Istanbul Biennial, under the sponsorship of Koç Holding. The education programs are organized with the aim of developing enthusiasm for museum and exhibition culture among children between the ages of 6 and 14, and to introduce them to basic art concepts and contemporary art. The programs will continue for the entire duration of the Istanbul Biennial.

Education projects for art teachers
As part of the education project to be realized with the sponsorship of Koç Holding, 200 art teachers will receive education about the biennial and contemporary art. With this project IKSV and Koç Holding aim to increase artistic interest and knowledge among the young generation.

The publications of the biennial encompass three volumes, whose graphic design is developed in collaboration with Jon Sueda of Stripe, San Francisco: a book documenting the November 2010 conference Remembering Istanbul, which looked back at the history of the Istanbul Biennial; a companion with full-color photographs and interviews with the artists by the curators; and a catalogue that will feature six new essays on the topics of the exhibition as well as installation images of the biennial.

The ticket price for the 12th Istanbul Biennial will be 15 TL for tickets purchased in advance, and 20 TL starting on the opening date, September 17. Primary school and high school students, visitors over the age of 65, teachers, and members of the International Association of Plastic Arts will be able to visit the exhibition for the discount ticket price of 5 TL in advance, and then 8 TL starting on September 17. Tickets can be purchased from Biletix sales channels, IKSV (Nejat Eczacıbaşı Binası Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No:5 Şişhane, everyday between 10.00-18.00 except for Sundays),and (as of September 15) Antrepo 3.

Tulip Card holders will enjoy special Tulip Card ticket price discounts of 20-25%.

Organized guided tours will take place every day. The tours cost 20 TL for visitors showing their biennial tickets and holders of discount tickets pay only 8 TL for tours.

Biennial best to visit with “12B Unlimited”
A limited number of“12B Unlimited” tickets are available for 50 TL each. Each “12B Unlimited” ticket admits two people to the exhibition venue, provides the opportunity to seethe biennial before the official opening date, and includes access to special events. Holders will enjoy limitless rights of entrance to the exhibition venues throughout the duration of the biennial as well as discounts at specific cafes, restaurants, bookstores and music stores during the biennial. The“12B Unlimited” ticket is an exceptional value for art lovers, allowing them to become part of the contemporary art world together with the artists and international guests of the Istanbul Biennial.

With the “Biennial Plus” ticket you can also be a supporter of the Istanbul Biennial
The “Biennial Plus” ticket, inaugurated in 2009 and enthusiastically received, continues this year. Each “Biennial Plus” ticket admits two people and costs 150 TL. With “Biennial Plus” tickets, art lovers will be able to attend the preview on September 15-16 and then enter the biennial limitlessly for its entire duration. In addition the “Biennial Plus” ticket gives the satisfaction of knowing that the holder has made a special contribution to ensuring the success of the Istanbul Biennial. 

Press conference and accreditations
After the press conference of the 12th Istanbul Biennial (to be held at 10am on Thursday, September 15), accredited press members and professionals will be admitted to preview the biennial on September 15 and 16. They will have unlimited access to the biennial venue over the course of the opening weekend, September 17-18.

Press members and professionals can apply for accreditation at