Elmgreen & Dragset Announce ‘Good Neighbor’ Theme for 2017 Istanbul Biennial

The artist-curators made the announcement with the help of a 40-person performance.

Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo by Elmar Vestner, courtesy 15th Istanbul Biennial.
Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo by Elmar Vestner, courtesy 15th Istanbul Biennial.

Artists Elmgreen & Dragset have announced the title and conceptual framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial, which they will curate, and will take place from September 16 to November 12, 2017. Titled “A Good Neighbor,” the biennial will explore notions of home, neighborhoods, and how private spheres have changed in the recent past.

Home is approached as an indicator of diverse identities and a vehicle for self-expression, and neighborhood as a micro-universe exemplifying some of the challenges we face in terms of co-existence today,” said the curators at a Tuesday media conference.

A performer questions what it means to be a good neighbor at a press conference for the 15th Istanbul Biennial. Photo by Ilgin Erarslan Yanmaz, courtesy of the 15th Istanbul Biennale.

A performer questions what it means to be a good neighbor at a press conference for the 15th Istanbul Biennial. Photo by Ilgin Erarslan Yanmaz, courtesy of the 15th Istanbul Biennial.

Elmgreen & Dragset said that the format will “bear traces of being curated by artists,” and as an early mark of the artist-curators’ lead, the conference began with a performance of 40 people. Each asked a question about what constitutes a good neighbor: “Is a good neighbor someone you rarely see? Is a good neighbor active in your local community? Someone with no WiFi password and a strong signal? A woman in love, humming as she prepares a meal for her girlfriend? Someone who has a ‘Close the Borders’ sticker on his car?”

Photographs by Turkish artist Ali Taptık were projected behind the performers, from a series he produced in Istanbul in relation to the theme, bringing to light the local neighborhood of the biennial.

However, on an international level, the curators announced that, In the months leading up to the event, a collaborative campaign will proliferate worldwide. Billboards designed by graphic designer Rupert Smyth and various artists will be displayed at cultural institutions around the globe, questioning “the ways in which neighborhoods have changed all around the world.”


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