MCA Talk:
A Look at the 14th Istanbul Biennial

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Fig. 8. Vague Pure Affection, from A. Besant and C. W. Leadbeater, Thought-Forms, 1901


This lecture by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, curator of the 14th Istanbul Biennial and visiting professor in art theory and practice at Northwestern University, explores the ideas underlying the Biennial, which opens in September 2015. This cutting-edge, periodic, international exhibition of contemporary art will present new works by over 50 visual artists and other practitioners, including oceanographers and neuroscientists, in a city-wide exhibition that considers different frequencies and patterns of waves, along with the currents and densities of water, both visible and invisible, which poetically and politically shape and transform the world. Christov-Bakargiev states, “the 14th Istanbul Biennial will embark on looking for where to draw the line, to withdraw, to draw upon, and to draw out. It will do so offshore, on the flat surfaces with our fingertips, but also in the depths, underwater, before the enfolded encoding unfolds. With and through art, we mourn, commemorate, denounce, try to heal, and commit ourselves to the possibility of joy and vitality, leaping from form to life.”

About the Speaker

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is an author; event and exhibition organizer; and researcher into artistic practices, the histories of art, and the politics of aesthetics. She is the curator of the 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015) and the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University (2013-15), as well as a Getty Visiting Scholar (2015). She was Artistic Director of Documenta 13 from 2009–12, which took place in Kassel, Germany, from June 9 through September 16, 2012, as well as in Kabul, Afghanistan, and included projects in Alexandria/Cairo, Egypt, and Banff, Canada. Previously, she was Artistic Director of the 16th Biennial of Sydney: "Revolutions—Forms That Turn" (2008), and Chief Curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum for Contemporary Art (2002-08, interim director in 2009). She was Senior Curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center—a MoMA affiliate, in New York, from 1999-2001. Previous group exhibitions include The Moderns, Turin (2003), Faces in the Crowd , London and Turin (2004), Citta' Natura (1997), and Molteplici Culture (1992). Her books include William Kentridge(1998), Arte Povera(1999), and for Documenta 13, the 100 Notes—100 Thoughts series as well as The Logbook and The Book of Books (2011–12). She received the Leverhulme Professorship from the University of Leeds in 2014, and in 2013 she was the Menschel Visiting Professor in Art at Cooper Union, New York, as well as the Pernod Ricard Visiting Professor in the philosophy of art and naturecultures at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main/Institut für Philosophie.


The Antje B. and John J. Jelinek Endowed Lecture and Symposium on Contemporary Art is made possible through a generous gift to the Chicago Contemporary Campaign.