The 2019 Istanbul Biennial will be curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, the director of Montpellier Contemporain in France and the cofounder of the Paris’s Palais de Tokyo museum. The biennial’s forthcoming edition is set to open in the Turkish city on September 14 of next year, and it will run through November 10, 2019.
Bourriaud is one of the international biennial scene’s most high-profile curators, having been on the team behind the first and second editions of the Moscow Biennial, in 2005 and 2007, respectively, and having organized the 2011 edition of the Athens Biennial, the 2014 edition of the Taipei Biennial, the 2015 edition of the Kaunas Biennial, and the 2009 edition of the Tate Triennial, titled “Altermodern.” He was also one of the 13 co-curators of the “Aperto” section of the 1993 Venice Biennale.
But some of his most important achievements have come in the form of his writings. In 1998, he published his book Relational Aesthetics, which theorized a new style of art—pioneered by such figures as Pierre Huyghe and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster—that placed an increased emphasis on viewer participation and the interaction between humans surrounding works. From 1987 to 1995, he was the Paris correspondent for Flash Art magazine.
Prior to becoming director of Montpellier Contemporain, Bourriaud was the director of École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. (In 2015, he was dismissed from his post by the city’s cultural minister, for “reasons related to a change of direction,” according to a Facebook status posted by Bourriaud at the time.) Bourriaud has also been director of the Palais de Tokyo, a curator of contemporary art at Tate Britain, and the head of the studies department at the French Ministry of Culture.
In a statement, Bourriaud said of his appointment, “I am very honored to be able to contribute to the history of Istanbul Biennial, which has always been a place of strong curatorial statements since its creation in 1987. Also, 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.”
Past curators of the Istanbul Biennial include Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (2015), Fulya Erdemci (2013), and the artists Elmgreen & Dragset (2017). The biennial’s advisory board members currently include Iwona Blazwick, Ayşe Erek, İnci Eviner, Yuko Hasegawa and Agustín Pérez Rubio.