press release

1. INTRODUCTION Istanbul, this great city, standing at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, has been a vast polyglot center for hundreds of years. It is a city whose history spans centuries and continents, and whose intellectual borders extend deep into Europe and Asia, into the north as well as into the south. The myriad of cultures that compose it thrive on the energy, on the fervour and on the generosity of its inhabitants. The title of this biennial is an acknowledgement of the cross-national character of its culture and a homage to this city through the name of one of its great voices.

"Dalga" or "Dalgas", which means "wave" in Turkish and "passion" in Greek, was the stage name of Antonis Dhiamantidhis, a singer of amanédhes -long drawn melodies related to the Turkish gazels that are composed of couplets, and that are interspersed with the interjection aman, "alas" or "mercy" in English, both for improvisational purposes and as an emotional outlet. He was born in Arnavutköy, a suburb of İstanbul in 1892; along with Hafız Burhan, he was one of the great singers of this city in the first part of this century. He chose this name because no other word, he thought, could convey the intensity of his music, the modulation of his voice, his multiple linguistic heritage and the sense of place - that of the city on the Bosphorus - which was his birthplace as well as his source of inspiration.

"The Passion and the Wave" is a title that evokes an emotional state, as well as a physical entity, that of the sea, which is an overriding presence both dividing and uniting this city. It indicates the exhibition's conceptual matrix, but also a profound interest in individual histories, and in the sensory qualities and degree of emotional intensity that are the cornerstones of all artistic creation.

2. FOCUS In a world that is moving more and more toward globalization, one consistently notices a powerful undercurrent that draws large segments of the world population towards an affirmation of individual identity and of specific perspectives. The sweeping utopias of the 70's and the belief in the 80's in a society of limitless growth, have given way to a new scepticism about overtly assertive artistic gestures and their ability to make significant and durable marks on an ever-shifting social texture.

Rather than an avowal of defeat, this attitude resulted in the opening of new ways of expression. In recent years, artists have employed strategies born as much from the global highway as from traditional artistic method in order to express their personal points of view. As a consequence, the overriding presence of the media and of new technologies, have forced many artists to return to the primacy of the image, not as a nostalgic vector for ideas within a pictorial tradition, but as part of an easily transmissible and readable visual text, free from the necessities of space that characterised much of the installation art of the past decade.

Breaking borders between high and low art, and hierarchies between different art categories and genres, artists today have created a fertile field for discussion of subjects as diverse as psychological disorders and political activism. The lack of a domineering ideology has spawned a wide array of responses, all characterised by a highly personal take on the challenges of the present.

In this framework, "The Passion and the Wave" will raise the question of the significance of personal histories and of the weight of emotional investment in the contemporary world, as a growing number of artists offer us poetic catharsis rather than pragmatic solutions to political and social problems.

As in all events that aim to capture a given moment in time, this exhibition will reflect the consciousness of our own contemporaneity: the rapid changes, the technological advances, the clash of cultures and the melting of borders that are central to our experience of the world. But as it holds up a mirror to the present, it will also probe the emotional pulse of art, through the gage of the intensely personal and image-oriented works that have come to dominate the artistic landscape today.

3. BIENNIAL MODEL İstanbul does not follow the biennial model of national pavilions and curators for selecting artists; nor does it follow the model where the selection of artists is made by the respective national governments, which provide direct financial support. The İstanbul Biennial follows a hybrid system that combines a sole artistic director, responsible for the overall conceptualisation and the selection of the artists, and likewise seeks the financial support of the different governments or foreign institutions. This system necessitates a well-balanced combination of freedom of decision to achieve artistic goals and dependency on the financial support of various participating countries. The criteria of selection of the artists is based upon their adherence to the theme of the exhibition, rather than on quotas of national representation.

4. VENUES The 6th International İstanbul Biennial took place at one main venue and at a number of satellite venues, thus engaging several parts of the city. Dolmabahçe Cultural Centre, a 19th century building on the Bosphorus that faces the Asian side of İstanbul will be the main venue, and hosted the majority of two dimensional works on exhibition. Yerebatan Cistern and Hagia Eireni, two of the city's main historical places, was the stage for the large majority of "in situ" projects of the exhibition.

5. COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITIES The 6th International İstanbul Biennial was enriched with a series of panel discussions, lectures and performances by the artists.

6. CATALOGUE A guide to the Biennial, with biographical notes on the participating artists was published before the opening of the exhibition. A catalogue that documented the artists' contributions and the specially conceived "in situ" projects was published in January 2000.


6. International Istanbul Biennial
Künstlerischer Direktor: Paolo Colombo

mit Haluk Akakce, Pedro Alvarez, Francis Alÿs, Miriam Backstrom, Nadia Berkani, Candice Breitz, Elina Brotherus, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Mutlu Cerkez, Christina Dimitriadis, A K Dolven, Lukas Duwenhögger, Iran do Espirito Santo, Angela Ferreira, Arturo Herrera, Carsten Höller, Yuki Kimura, Eva Marisaldi, Oliver Musovik, Michael Raedecker, William Kentridge, Juan Muñoz, Pipilotti Rist, Ugo Rondinone, Ebru Özsecen, Neriman Polat, Sefa Saglam, Emma Kay, Chris Ofili, Tony Oursler, Gregory Markopoulos, Yehudit Sasportas, Malik Sidibé, Rosemarie Trockel, Fatimah Tuggar, Gavin Turk, Ömer Uluc, Francesco Vezzoli, Kara Walker, Gillian Wearing,Christopher Wool, Lisa Yuskavage ...