Curator Iwona Blazwick Departs Istanbul Biennial as Next Edition Is Delayed to 2025

Curator Iwona Blazwick Departs Istanbul Biennial as Next Edition Is Delayed to 2025

After a period of controversy, the Istanbul Biennial, one of the world’s top recurring art exhibitions, will completely redo its forthcoming edition, delaying its opening date by a year and bringing on a new curator to mount it.

On Friday, the Art Newspaper reported that Iwona Blazwick will no longer serve as the curator of the next Istanbul Biennial. That exhibition was initially expected to open this year. It will now open in 2025—a move that the biennial said would allow for time to rethink the show.

Blazwick, the chair of the Royal Commission for AlUla’s Public Art Expert Panel in Saudi Arabia, had been the subject of scrutiny because she was also formerly a member of the Istanbul Biennial’s advisory committee.

The Art Newspaper had previously reported that despite that committee having recommended Defne Ayas to curate this edition of the biennial, Blazwick was selected instead. The foundation that manages the biennial, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), had reportedly not gone with Ayas because of her 2015 Turkish Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, devoted to the artist Sarkis. Her catalogue for the show had initially mentioned the Armenian genocide, which the Turkish government denies having happened; the book was subsequently taken out of circulation.

Around the time of the Art Newspaper report, Blazwick and three other members resigned from the committee. Afterward, a period of tumult followed at the biennial: artists said they would no longer participate in the show, the IKSV announced that it was going to overhaul the curatorial selection process, and the foundation’s longtime director, Bige Örer, resigned, only to be replaced earlier this year by Kevser Güler.

“The decision of not organising the 18th Istanbul Biennial in 2024 was taken together with Iwona Blazwick,” the IKSV said in a statement to ARTnews.

The decision to push back the biennial to 2025 was announced publicly on Friday. In that announcement, the biennial said, “We have witnessed the emergence of undesired divisions in art circles that are adversely affecting artists who had already agreed or might have agreed to participate in the biennial as well as collaborations and partnerships. Unfortunately, this situation has made it impossible to hold the Istanbul Biennial as planned.”

The statement concluded, “Just as we have always worked hard to organise the Istanbul Biennial in the best way possible, we will ensure that the Istanbul Biennial returns to audiences in 2025, following a new process carried out within the framework of our new regulations.”

The post “Curator Iwona Blazwick Departs Istanbul Biennial as Next Edition Is Delayed to 2025” by Alex Greenberger was published on 01/19/2024 by