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

The 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms opens to the public next week on 5 September, and will run until 1 November. Spanning across 30 venues on both the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, this year’s edition seeks to provide an organic connection between visual art and other disciplines through a variety of works by over 80 international participants.

Based loosely on the idea that salt water is one of the most abundant and universal materials in the world, the biennial draws inspiration from its function in sustaining healthy living organisms, whilst also having a corrosive nature and being a direct threat to the digital age. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of the 14th Istanbul Biennial, reflects on salt water as a healing substance; something that slows down the experience of art due to its presence between venues, especially on ferries, and its powers to settle respiratory problems and calm nervous dispositions.

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), a non-profit cultural institution founded in 1973, SALTWATER will present over 1,500 artworks including over 50 commissions by international artists hailing from countries including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America. These projects will be combined with research from the fields of oceanography, marine archaeology, neuroscience, and theosophy.

The works on display will range from Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater’s ground-breaking abstract piece Thought Forms (1901) to a new installation by Aslı Çavuşoğlu, which reflects on an ancient and lost Armenian technique for extracting red dye from an insect, and a multichannel piece by William Kentridge inspired by Trostky’s passage through Turkey. In its opening week the biennial will reach out to Kastellorizo, a Greek island two kilometres away from the Turkish coast, with a provisional SALTWATER presentation of a project in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust.

The 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, 5 September – 1 November, various venues in Istanbul.

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1. A. Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, Fig. 8. Vague Pure Affection from Thought-Forms, 1901.