Established in 1895, la Biennale di Venezia has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world.
Turkey participated in the International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia for the first time in 1991 with the personal efforts of Beral Madra, and with the contributions of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Beral Madra was the curator and the commissioner of the exhibitions between 1991 and 2001.
In 2003, the Pavilion of Turkey was initiated with a temporary exhibition space rented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. The first Pavilion of Turkey, curated and commissioned by Beral Madra, presented the exhibition in Limbo with the participation of Gül Ilgaz, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Neriman Polat, Nazif Topçuoğlu and Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
In 2005, the video work Absent Presence by Hüseyin Çağlayan featuring Tilda Swinton was exhibited in Palazzo Levi, in the Pavilion of Turkey at the 51st International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. The Pavilion was curated by Beral Madra and coordinated by Murat Pilevneli.
Since 2007, the Pavilion of Turkey has been organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. The artist and the curator of the Pavilion are proposed by Advisory Board that changes every two years.
In 2007, for the 52nd International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, Vasıf Kortun was appointed the curator of the Pavilion of Turkey and invited Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin to realise a project for the Pavilion. Alptekin’s installation was named Don’t Complain and consisted of a series of specific single-cell spaces in a semi-arched form.
For the 53rd edition of la Biennale di Venezia, the Advisory Board selected Başak Şenova’s proposal Lapses/* for the Pavilion of Turkey. Lapses/* was shaped by two projects: Exploded City by Ahmet Öğüt, and CATALOG 2009 by Banu Cennetoğlu.
At the Pavilion of Turkey in the 54th International Art Exhibition, Ayşe Erkmen represented Turkey with her work Plan B. The Pavilion of Turkey was curated by Fulya Erdemci, with Danae Mossman as curatorial collaborator.
The Pavilion of Turkey in the 55th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia in 2013 was curated by Emre Baykal who invited Ali Kazma with his work Resistance.
In 2014, on the initiation of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and with the gracious support of 21 sponsors, Turkey obtained a long-term venue in la Biennale di Venezia. The allotment of 20 years (from 2014 to 2034) at Sale d’Armi, Arsenale, one of the two main venues of the event, allowed the Pavilion of Turkey to take part for the first time in 2014 in the International Architecture Exhibition.
The Pavilion of Turkey at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia that ran from 7 June through 23 November 2014 presented the project Places of Memory, performed by the curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu, the project coordinator Pelin Derviş, and the exhibitors Ali Taptık, Alper Derinboğaz, Candaş Şişman, Metehan Özcan and Serkan Taycan.
In 2015, Respiro, a project by the influential conceptual artist Sarkis, curated by Defne Ayas, was presented in the Pavilion of Turkey at the 56th International Art Exhibition between 9 May and 22 November 2015.
In 2016, The Pavilion of Turkey at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition featured the project Darzanà. Curated by Feride Çiçekoğlu, Mehmet Kütükçüoğlu and Ertuğ Uçar, with curatorial collaborators Cemal Emden and Namık Erkal, the exhibition team of Darzanà consisted of Hüner Aldemir, Caner Bilgin, Hande Ciğerli, Gökçen Erkılıç, Nazlı Tümerdem and Yiğit Yalgın.
For the 57th International Art Exhibition, a project entitled ÇIN by artist Cevdet Erek was presented at the Pavilion of Turkey that was on view between 13 May and 26 November 2017. Artist Ali Kazma, curator at Arter Başak Doğa Temür, Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Culture and Art Enterprises General Manager Özalp Birol, Art Advisor at Istanbul Modern Paolo Colombo, and Prof. Dr. Zeynep İnankur from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Department of Western and Contemporary Art were among Advisory Board members.
The Pavilion of Turkey presented Vardiya / The Shift, curated by Kerem Piker, at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition. Vardiya was selected from among the project applications received in response to the open call organised by İKSV. The Selection Committee included Prof. Dr. Sibel Bozdoğan, Levent Çalıkoğlu, Prof. Dr. Arzu Erdem, Prof. Dr. Murat Güvenç, Yeşim Hatırlı, Prof. Dr. Süha Özkan, and Prof. Dr. Uğur Tanyeli. Cansu Cürgen, Yelta Kön, Yağız Söylev, Nizam Onur Sönmez ve Erdem Tüzün were Associate Curators of the project.
A new installation by the influential artist İnci Eviner, curated by Zeynep Öz, will be presented at the Pavilion of Turkey at the upcoming 58th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, to be held between 11 May and 24 November 2019. The Advisory Board consists of Serhan Ada from Bilgi University, Department of Arts and Cultural Management, curator at Arter Başak Doğa Temür, Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Culture and Art Enterprises General Manager Özalp Birol, curator and Art Advisor at Istanbul Modern Museum Paolo Colombo, and Prof. Dr. Zeynep İnankur from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Department of Western and Contemporary Art. The 58th edition of the International Art Exhibition will be curated by Ralph Rugoff.
Sponsors of the Pavilion of Turkey
The Pavilion of Turkey is realised under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey.
The Pavillion of Turkey in the International Art Exhibition was realised with the sponsorship of Garanti Bank in 2007, while in 2009, İKSV coordinated the pavilion without receiving any sponsorship. Sponsored by Fiat in 2011, 2013 and 2015, the Pavilion of Turkey in the International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia was realised with the production support of SAHA. Initiated in 2007, the Friends of the Pavilion of Turkey Programme has also contributed to the realisation of the pavilion in 2011.
The Pavilion of Turkey in the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in 2014 was co-sponsored by Schüco Türkiye and VitrA, with the production support of Häfele. To be organised in 2016, the Pavilion of Turkey in the 15th International Architecture Exhibition will be realised once again with the co-sponsorship of Schüco Türkiye and VitrA, and the production support of Competenza.
The sponsoring persons and institutions that have contributed in providing Turkey with a permanent venue in la Biennale di Venezia include Akbank, Mehveş-Dalınç Arıburnu, Berrak-Nezih Barut, Ali Raif Dinçkök, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, Füsun-Faruk Eczacıbaşı, Oya-Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Enka Foundation, Nesrin Esirtgen, Eti Gıda San. ve Tic. AŞ, Ahu-Can Has, Öner Kocabeyoğlu, MAÇAKIZI, Tansa Mermerci Ekşioğlu, Polimeks Holding, SAHA Association, Taha Tatlıcı, T. Garanti Bankası AŞ, Vehbi Koç Foundation, Zafer Yıldırım, and Yıldız Holding AŞ.