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  • Dec 10, 2020

Curators Announced For 2021 Istanbul Biennial

Portraits of (from left to right) UTE META BAUER, AMAR KANWAR, and DAVID TEH. Photo by C. Fenzl, Monica Tiwari, and Alex Davies. Courtesy the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV).

On December 9, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) announced that curator Ute Meta Bauer, artist Amar Kanwar, and scholar David Teh, will be the curatorial team for the 17th edition of Istanbul Biennial, slated for September 11 to November 14, 2021. Under their direction the 2021 Biennial “seeks to learn from the birds' flight, from the once teeming seas, from the earth's slow chemistry of renewal and nourishment” according to the press release. Further details about the Biennial's theme and participating artists have yet to be released.

The Stuttgart-born curator Ute Meta Bauer is the founding director of NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA) and a professor at the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University since 2013. She launched and oversaw numerous research-based programs at NTU CCA, including “Place.Labour.Capital.” (2014–17) and “Climates. Habitats. Environments.” (2018– ), as well as many exhibitions, such as most recently, “Non-Aligned” (2020) and “Siah Armajani: Spaces for the Public. Spaces for Democracy” (2019). She was a co-curator of  Documenta 11 (1998–2002). 

New Delhi-based artist Amar Kanwar works primarily with films and installations that adopt a poetic approach to personal, social, and political issues with narratives originated from zones of conflict. In 2020, he was featured in exhibitions at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation and NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. He also participanted in Documenta 11, 12, 13, and 14.

Sydney-born curator David Teh is an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, with his research focusing mainly on Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. Teh’s curatorial projects include “Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns,” at the CIRCUIT Artist Cinema Commissions, Aotearoa (2020); “Returns,” at the 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018); and “Misfits: Pages from a Loose-leaf Modernity,” at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2017).

While the number of new Covid-19 cases in Turkey has remained at around 1,000 a day since the outbreak of the pandemic, the country recently witnessed a spike in cases in late November after the government began releasing the full number of positive cases instead of merely the number of those with symptoms. In recent weeks the government has imposed a new round of restrictions, including curfews during weeknights and full lockdowns during the weekends.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.