An installation by the influential artist Füsun Onur will be presented at the Pavilion of Turkey at the 59th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, to be held between May and November 2021. The Pavilion of Turkey is located in its long-term venue at the Arsenale, secured by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) for the duration of 20 years from 2014 to 2034.

From the photo archive of Ege Art

As one of Turkey’s pioneering contemporary artists, Füsun Onur’s works deal with potentials of space, time, rhythm and form that are inherent in simple, everyday materials charged with narrative and oblique autobiographical references. In her prolific career that spans over half a century, Onur defied boundaries between painting and sculpture, becoming a pivotal figure to introduce avant-garde into the artistic canon in Turkey in the early 1970’s. Onur participated in solo and group exhibitions at the Augarten Contemporary, Vienna (2010), Istanbul Modern (2011), Maçka Art Gallery, Istanbul (2012), and ARTER, Istanbul (2014). Her works were featured at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2001), ZKM, Karlsruhe (2004) and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2005) as well as in the Istanbul Biennials (1987, 1995, 2011, 2015), the Moscow Biennale (2007), and dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel (2012).

The curator of the pavilion will be Bige Örer. Örer is currently the director of the Istanbul Biennial and contemporary art projects at İKSV.

The Advisory Board of the Pavilion of Turkey at la Biennale di Venezia consists of Serhan Ada from Bilgi University; General Manager of Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, Culture and Arts Enterprises Özalp Birol; artist İnci Eviner; Director and Curator of the Fiorucci Art Trust Milovan Farronato, and Editor of Sanat Dünyamız and art writer Fisun Yalçınkaya.

The Advisory Board commented on Onur: “As the Advisory Board of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 59th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, we are very honoured and excited to leave the Pavilion of Turkey in Füsun Onur's hands. Füsun Onur is one of the rare artists to form a poetic relationship between life and art beyond just artworks, but as a way of being. Onur explores the fundamental orientations of conceptual art through her own poetry. The words, particles of daily life and tales that she scatters into the air, crystallise as fragile objects as a result of the spontaneous relationships they form. Onur does not see art as an expression of grand narratives, but as a boundless spring of creativity that stems from the individual space in between herself and the Earth. The installations of Füsun Onur stand out with their ability to erase the universally defined boundaries such as identity, culture and language, and to linger as a musical note in living beings, regardless of place and space.”

The Pavilion of Turkey at La Biennale di Venezia is coordinated and organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), and realised under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 59th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia will run between May-November 2021 and will be curated by Cecilia Alemani.

About Füsun Onur
A graduate of Üsküdar American Academy for Girls, Onur studied Sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, became a student at Hadi Bara Atelier, and moved on to her post-graduate studies in Sculpture at the Maryland College of Art with a Fulbright scholarship in 1960. Her first solo exhibition was presented by Taksim Art Gallery in 1970, which was followed by participations in many other exhibitions such as the 7th Biennial of Young Artists in Paris (1971) and ‘Open Air Exhibitions’ organised by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums (1974 and 1977). Onur lives and works in Istanbul.

About Bige Örer
Bige Örer’s breadth of activity embraces both the artistic and the academic fields. Her curatorial projects include exhibitions Flaneuses, Istanbul (2017), Linear Transcendency, Amman (2016), and Agoraphobia, Berlin (2013, co-curated with Fulya Erdemci). She participated in curatorial residency programmes at Whitechapel Gallery (2016) and Palais de Tokyo (2018). Her contributions in various publications include the research she co-conducted on the financing of international contemporary art biennials. She co-authored the children’s book A Colourful Journey in a Time Machine: Istanbul Biennials for Children with Sureyyya Evren. Örer has written extensively about biennials and taught courses on the subject at Istanbul Bilgi University. She was a consultant and jury member of numerous arts institutions, and has been the vice-president of the International Biennial Association since its foundation in March 2013. She is also on the editorial board of the association that conceptualised and edited the inaugural issue of its journal, Pass.

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