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Courtesy of IKSV

10 Things You Need To Know About The 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 20 November 2016
The 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), is currently on and will continue until Sunday December 4th. Under the theme of ‘Are We Human?’, the biennial showcases more than 250 participants’ works. We take a look at the ten most interesting facts regarding the exciting showcase.

Amazing curators

The biennial is curated by husband-and-wife duo Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, who are both established curators and architecture professors. Colomina is a professor at Princeton Univesity, while Wigley is a professor and Dean Emeritus at Columbia University’s school of architecture.

Range of participants and themes

The participants (including artists, scientists, labs, centers, institutes, theorists, film makers, historians, choreographers, NGOs and archaeologists) are organized under four main themes – body, planet, life and time – which span five locations across the city. Seventy projects explore themes ranging from important global issues such as deforestation and the refugee crisis, to our addiction to mobile devices.

NEMESTUDIO Dokuz Ada: Mimari Etrafında Konular, mimari maddeselliğin zamansal ve coğrafi kökenleri üzerine düşünen karışık teknik bir yerleştirme. Dokuz “ada” bir malzemenin “mimari” olarak yeniden işlendiği bir üst kısım ve malzemenin nasıl tedarik edildiğini açığa çıkaran bir alt kısımdan oluşuyor. Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture is a mixed-media installation that reflects on the temporal and geographical origins of architectural materiality. Nine “islands” are comprised of a top part representing an “architectural” reworking of a material, and a bottom part uncovering the way the material was sourced. #arewehuman #bizinsanmiyiz #istanbultasarimbienali #istanbuldesignbiennial Fotoğraf/Photograph: Sahir Uğur Eren

A photo posted by İstanbul Tasarım Bienali (@tasarimbienali) on

A real time feed of distortion

One of the outstanding works is a video installation by choreographer William Forsythe entitled City of Abstracts, a real-time video feed of visitors walking up and down the entrance staircase with a slight delay and an applied distortion. The effect is that viewers disengage with the perception of space and their own corporeal self.

Established names and newcomers working together

The work is a medley that is experienced simultaneously with an international roster of participants that range from established names – such as Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Tomas Saraceno, Thomas Demand, Eyal Weizman, and Tacita Dean – to upcoming designers, including students and recent graduates.

3D printed tombs

One of the Turkish participants (helping to root the event in Istanbul) modeled and 3D-printed tombs that can be found throughout the city. With these models entitled ‘The Visit’, Istanbul-based studio So? explores how the focus on tombs expresses the culture’s design that revolved exclusively around death.

The surreal humanoids

Another standout is the work of Chinese media creative Lu Yang who created an amazing experimental film called Delusional Mandala. Transformed into a digitalized and asexual avatar, Yang travels through a universe of psychedelic delusions and effects, including aberrant digital graphics, religious iconography, medical visuals, and animated humanoids.

Territorial Agency Territorial Agency’nin Petrol Müzesi, petrol çıkarma sanayiinin tüm gezegeni kaplayan geniş ve kesintisiz bir ağ halinde yayılmasını belgeliyor. Bu uçsuz bucaksız teknolojik manzaraya ait oldukça ayrıntılı, devasa haritalar ziyaretçilerin tepesinde beliriyor. Bu çarpıcı imgeler, bir dizi video ve veri görselleştirmesiyle büyümüş bir eylem çağrısı. Territorial Agency’s The Museum of Oil documents the spread of the oil extraction industry across the whole planet in a vast continuous web. A set of huge highly detailed maps of this vast technological landscape loom over the visitor. These shocking images are a call for action, magnified by a series of videos and data visualizations. #arewehuman #bizinsanmiyiz #istanbultasarimbienali #istanbuldesignbiennial Fotoğraf/Photograph: Sahir Uğur Eren

A photo posted by İstanbul Tasarım Bienali (@tasarimbienali) on

Real corpses

One of the most perturbing works is by Turkish artist Ali Kazma who shot a film at a medical school in Istanbul. Entitled Anatomy, the film shows students dissecting a corpse, aiming to help them understand the intricate nature of the human body and all its subtleties.

Getting very close to human skin

Another impressive work is by London-based multimedia studios Marshmallow Laser Feast, who teamed up with Analog to create a video that shows light travel across the naked body of 77-year-old actor and model Beryl Nesbitt. After a while Nesbitt’s skin seems to transform into dust, expressing a 3D study of mortality.

Live music takes center stage

The event also features live sets and performances, mainly at the Alt Art Space in Bomonti. Visitors are invited to take part in ‘destabilizing discos’, which feature a remix of Ottoman and Arab-eqsue music with today’s sounds for a unique audio and visual experience.

The main historical location

One of the event’s main locations is the Galata Greek Primary School, which was closed in 1988 due to the dwindling population of Greek Orthodox students. After serving briefly as a nursery school between 2001 and 2007, the beautiful building found new life when İKSV began using it for its events.