The 14th Istanbul Biennial: SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms

The 14th Istanbul Biennial: SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms

Istanbul Biennial

Adrian Villar Rojas, Trotsky House, Büyükada, 2015. Photo: Kübra Karaçizmeli.
September 5, 2015
The 14th Istanbul Biennial
SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms
September 5–November 1, 2015
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV)
Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5, Şişhane
Nejat Eczacıbaşı Binası
34433 Istanbul
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

The 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) opens to the public on September 5, 2015. The biennial, drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with a number of alliances, presents artworks by over 80 participants from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America. The biennial will be open until November 1, 2015.

Encompassing 36 venues on the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, SALTWATER takes place in exhibition spaces as well as temporary spaces of habitation on land and on sea such as boats, hotels, former banks, garages, gardens, schools, shops and private homes.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev states “This citywide exhibition on the Bosphorus hovers around a material—salt water—and the contrasting images of knots and of waves. It looks for where to draw the line, to withdraw, to draw upon, and to draw out. It does so offshore, on the flat surfaces of our devices with our fingertips, but also in the depths, underwater, before the enfolded encoding unfolds.

It considers different frequencies and patterns of waves, the currents and densities of water, both visible and invisible that poetically and politically shape and transform the world. There are arrested movements that suspend time (the knots of human transport across seas and oceans, the knots of war, of labour, of ethnic cleansing) and there are repetitive and dispersive movements like waves (waves of uprisings, waves of ‘jouissance,' electro-magnetic waves). There are literal waves of water, but also waves of people, of emotion and memory. It is through the identification of waves that we acknowledge patterns—underwater patterns of water, or patterns of wind. Perhaps a wave is simply time—the feeling of a difference between its high and low points able to mark the experience of time, and thus of space, and thus of life. With and through art, we mourn, commemorate, denounce, try to heal, and we commit ourselves to the possibility of joy and vitality, of many communities that have co-inhabited this space, leaping from form to flourishing life.”

The exhibition presents artworks, including commissions by artists as well as other materials from the history of oceanography, environmental studies, marine archaeology, Art Nouveau, neuroscience, physics, mathematics and theosophy, and some crystals that Christov-Bakargiev gathered at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake in early 2015.

Works at the biennial range historically from an 1870 painting of waves by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who received a Nobel prize in 1906 for discovering the neuron, to the ground-breaking abstract Thought Forms of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater (1901–05); from a work by Füsun Onur where a poem is heard on a moving boat, up to a large installation of canvas, sails and salt by Anna Boghiguian.

Interlocutors and alliances include Anna BoghiguianAslı Çavuşoğlu, Cevdet Erek, Bracha L. Ettinger, Pierre Huyghe, Emre Hüner, William Irvine, William Kentridge, Marcos Lutyens, Chus MartínezEmin Özsoy, Griselda Pollock, Michael Rakowitz, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran and Elvan Zabunyan.

The list of 14th Istanbul Biennial participants and detailed programme of 14th Istanbul Biennial events including Speech Acts and Forms of Discourse, and film programme can be found at

The 14th Istanbul Biennial catalogue contains articles by curators, art historians and critics as well as original drawings by biennial participants. Publications are available free for download on or for reading via the İKSV Kitaplik iPad application.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Elif Obdan, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts: elif.obdan [​at​] / media [​at​]
Caroline Widmer, Pickles PR: caroline [​at​]

RSVP for The 14th Istanbul Biennial: SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought…
Istanbul Biennial
September 5, 2015

Thank you for your RSVP.

Istanbul Biennial will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.