Citing Surge in Covid Cases, Istanbul Biennial Postpones 2021 Edition

Citing Surge in Covid Cases, Istanbul Biennial Postpones 2021 Edition

Citing the “gravity of the ongoing health crisis,” the Istanbul Biennial in Turkey has postponed its 17th edition. Previously planned to open this September, the exhibition will now be held from September 17 to November 20, 2022. The decision was made by the event’s organizer, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (ISKV), in agreement with the curators—Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar, and David Teh—and participants.

“The 17th Istanbul Biennial, its curators and participants continue to be affected by the pandemic and its life-altering consequences,” the ISKV said in a statement.

Turkey is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases. As of now, the country has reported more than 4.9 million Covid cases, according to Reuters. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instated at three-week lockdown at the end of April, as Turkey was reporting more than 60,000 Covid cases per day. To date, only 12 percent of the country’s residents are vaccinated.

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The Istanbul Biennial joins other major exhibitions worldwide that have rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Venice Biennale in Italy, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and Whitney Biennial in New York are among the anticipated events to postpone editions.

[Curators Cecilia Alemani and Natasha Ginwala talk biennials during Covid.]

According to the ISKV, the biennial will continue to “act as a seedbed” for other projects still slated to take place throughout 2021. Though no details have yet been provided on these projects, they could take place virtually.

“As art organizations all around the world face urgent, existential questions—questions of survival and relevance, about how they operate, for whom, and to what ends—biennials are not immune,” the curators previously stated. “Art can refresh the vocabularies of public discourse, it can open new pathways of thought at a time of acute and complex planetary crisis.”

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