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The 16th Istanbul Biennial Announces Its Title: The Seventh Continent

Istanbul Biennial

The 16th Istanbul Biennial’s title and conceptual framework was announced by the curator Nicolas Bourriaud at a press conference on Tuesday, 11 December at Lycée Français Privé Saint-Joseph d'Istanbul.

Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding, the 16th Istanbul Biennial will take place between 14 September and 10 November 2019.

At the press conference, Istanbul Biennial Director and İKSV’s Contemporary Art Projects Director Bige Örer welcomed guests before leaving the stage to the curator Nicolas Bourriaud to announce the biennial’s title as The Seventh Continent. A part of the film Uccellacci e Uccellini directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini was also screened at the press conference where General Director of İKSV Görgün Taner was also present to welcome members of the press, critics, artists, curators and representatives from arts and culture institutions.

The 148-years-old Lycée Français Privé Saint-Joseph d'Istanbul where the press conference was held is home to one of the most extensive collections of natural sciences in Turkey, the Natural Sciences Centre. Guests who attended the press conference also had the opportunity to visit the center showcasing Turkey's biodiversity, and the Gece / Nuit exhibition currently on view at the school. The collection contains over 30 thousand animal and 40 thousand plant species, as well as close to 5 thousand minerals and fossils from Turkey, a majority of which are currently endangered or extinct.


One of the most visible effects of the Anthropocene, the new geological era characterized by the impact of human activities upon the planet, is the formation of a huge mass of waste that has been called ‘The Seventh Continent’ – 3.4 million square kilometers, 7 million tons of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean. The 16th Istanbul Biennial will explore this new continent: a world where humans and non-humans, our mass-productive systems and natural elements, drift together, reduced to particles of waste.

Today, we are acknowledging that the canonical western division between nature and culture has come to an end. The Anthropocene theory has contributed to this awareness, as the impact of human activities on nature generates an intertwined world where culture is reintegrating into nature, and vice-versa. Meanwhile, due to the increasing interconnections between cultures, as well as the development of transportation and migratory flows, the old centers are turning into megapolises sheltering a multitude of micro-cultures.

The Seventh Continent is an anthropology of an off-centered world and an archaeology of our times. It defines today’s art as an archipelago of diverse enquiries into global life, tracking the prints of human activity on the earth and our impact on its non-human inhabitants.

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