Prominent Indigenous artists and culturally significant
artworks will form part of the 14th Istanbul Biennial, which opens this
Director Visual Arts Julie Lomax said this year’s Istanbul Biennial would have
strong Indigenous representation from Australia at one of the most prestigious
biennials on the visual arts calendar.
Vernon Ah Kee and
Djambawa Marawili have been commissioned by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev to create
new work for the 14th Istanbul Biennial, SALTWATER: Theory of Thought Forms.
In addition, important
cultural works have travelled to Istanbul to provide context to the artistic
vision for the biennial – the Maw and Dhangatji Mununggurr Maak Message Sticks
(1935); Yirrkala Drawings (1947); the Yirrkala Bark Petitions and the Thumb Print
petitions (1963), and the Saltwater Paintings (1998-2000). Both the artists and
the works have been supported by the Australia Council to be included in the Biennial.
Vernon Ah Kee is a
well-respected artist both nationally and internationally, having represented
Australia at the 2009 Venice Biennale in the group exhibition Once Removed.
Djambawa Marawili won
the Best Bark in the 1996 Telstra Art Award and his works are held in many
public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Ms Lomax said the
invitation from Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev to exhibit at the Istanbul Biennial
was testament to her interest and commitment to contemporary Australian visual
artists, and a strong connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art,
which began when she was the Artistic Director of the 16th Biennale of Sydney
“This continued when
she was the Artistic Director of Documenta (13) in 2012 and she showcased Australian
artists in her exhibition,” said Ms Lomax.
“As the draftsperson of
the 14th Istanbul Biennial, Ms Christov-Bakargiev visited Australia
last year through the Australia Council’s International Visitors Program to
give a series of talks at Australian visual arts institutions and research
artists. This resulted in Ms
Christov-Bakargiev including Vernon Ah-Khee and Djambawa Marawilli in the
has also invited Australian arts professionals Hetti Perkins, Franchesca
Cubillo, Ian McLean, Adrian Parr, Will Stubbs, and Jane Bennett to contribute to a series of seminars during
the Biennial. The inclusion of these
artists and artworks will further cement Australia and our Indigenous art as an
important contributor to the international visual arts scene.”
Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski said the Australia Council was committed
to investing in innovative new practice and supporting artists to showcase work
“The Council has
invested around $11 million a year in international arts activity since 2010-11
and in 2013-14 there were 647
grants given to support Australian artists internationally,” Mr Grybowski said.
“In the March round of
the Australia Council’s peer assessed grants program, $1.3 million was invested
in artists and arts organisations that identified international activity as
their main focus, including the artists taking part in the Istanbul Biennial.”
and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts is a strategic
priority for the Australia Council. This initiative also delivers on the
Council’s commitment to enable Australian artists to develop their practice and
markets through international partnerships and an increased global profile.
Organised by the
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the 14th Istanbul Biennial will run
from 5 September until 1 November. It
coincides with Australia in Turkey 2015, the Australian Government’s biggest
cultural festival in Turkey. The four
month celebration of Australian culture will be staged predominantly in
Istanbul and Ankara from September to December 2015.
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