Elmgreen & Dragset stated, “We are honored to be appointed curators of the 15th Istanbul Biennial, having previously taken part as artists in three editions of the biennial. In light of the current global geopolitical situation, in which we’re experiencing a new rise of nationalism, it will be important for us to curate a biennial based on collaborative efforts and processes. Collaboration is something that feels natural to us, since we have been working together as an artist duo for more than twenty years. A biennial can be a platform for dialogue, and a format in which diverse opinions, perspectives, and communities can coexist.”
Elmgreen & Dragset (Michael Elmgreen, dr.h.c. and Ingar Dragset, dr.h.c.) are an artist duo who have worked together since 1995. Their artistic practice spans many genres, including installation, sculpture, performance, and theater. Their work has been included in the Istanbul (2013, 2011, 2001), Liverpool (2012), Singapore (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Venice (2009, 2003), Gwangju (2006, 2002), São Paulo (2002), and Berlin (1998) biennials. The artists were shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize, Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2000 and won the Preis der Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin in 2002. In 2012, Elmgreen & Dragset were selected for London’s Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square. They were awarded honorary doctorates at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 2015.
Previous curatorial projects include “The Collectors” at the Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, marking the first-ever merging of two national pavilions to present a single exhibition, which received a Special Mention entitled “Curating Worlds.” In 2013, the duo curated “A Space Called Public”, a wide- ranging temporary public art project throughout the city of Munich, with the aim of generating a new conversation about the concept of public space today. The same year, with their exhibition “Tomorrow” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the artists designed a setting in which they staged paintings, furniture, and artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection. Earlier curatorial projects include “Not a Drop But the Fall”, together with Susanne Pfeffer, Künstlerhaus Bremen (2005) and “Update”, a performance-based festival that was part of Copenhagen’s European Capitals of Culture program (1996). The artists are currently in the process of curating the exhibition “The Others”, opening at König Galerie in Berlin in September 2016.
Other collaborative projects include the artistic direction of the operas “L’Amour de Loin” at the Bergen International Festival (2008) and “Faustus, The Last Night” at Staatsoper, Berlin (2008), Opéra de Lyon (2006), and Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris (2006). The duo’s theater plays include “Drama Queens”, first performed at Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007), and “Happy Days in the Art World”, a Performa Commission for Performa 11 (2011). The Istanbul Biennial advisory board members include Adriano Pedrosa, Başak Şenova, İnci Eviner, Iwona Blazwick, and Ute Meta Bauer.
The conceptual framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial will be announced at a press meeting to be held in fall 2016. The media preview of the biennial will be on 13 September, and the professional preview on 14 and 15 September 2017.