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  • Jan 19, 2024

Scandal-Plagued Istanbul Biennial Postponed to 2025

Installation view of ARAHAMAIANI’s Flag Project, 2006- , at Muze Gazhane in Istanbul during the 17th edition of the Istanbul Biennial in 2022.

*updated January 21, 2024.

The 18th Istanbul Biennial, scheduled to open September 14, has been postponed to 2025 and the appointed curator, Iwona Blazwick, has stepped down. The 2025 edition will involve “a new preparatory process,” the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) announced on January 19. İKSV cited “undesired divisions in art circles that are adversely affecting artists who had already agreed or might have agreed to participate [ . . . ] as well as collaborations and partnerships.”

Since reports first surfaced in the media in August, the Biennial’s management has been criticized for naming Iwona Blazwick as the curator of the 2024 edition after she herself was a member of the curatorial-selection committee and İKSV declined to work with that body’s reported recommendation of Defne Ayas.

İKSV announced in October 2023 that it intended to make reforms, one day after an open letter titled “Time to Have Better Istanbul Biennials” began circulating that called for the privately run organization to adopt “legitimate and transparent practices . . . in light of its public mandate.” 

Longtime Istanbul Biennial director Bige Örer left her position in January and curator Kevser Güler was named the new director.

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