Toril Johannessen and Elmgreen & Dragset at the 13th Istanbul Biennial

Published 2013/09/11

Toril Johannessen, Extraordinary Popular Delusions (2012). Installation view from 'When you step inside it is filled with seeds' at Ottoneum as part of dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany / 9 June–16 September 2012. Photo: Anders Sune Berg


the participation of Toril Johannessen and Elmgreen & Dragset
at the 13th Istanbul Biennial:
'Mom, am I Barbarian?'

Exhibition dates: 14 September–20 October 2013
Press preview: 12–13 September

Curator: Fulya Erdemci

13th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey

The 13th edition of the Istanbul Biennial borrows its title; ‘Mom, am I Barbarian?’ from Turkish poet Lale Müldür’s book, that focuses on the theme of public space as a political forum, and will be held between 14 September and 20 October 2013. According to curator Fulya Erdemci ‘the idea of the public domain has diverse historic, philosophical, theoretical and geopolitical roots and definitions. This highly contested concept will serve as a matrix in order to generate ideas and develop practices that question contemporary forms of democracy, challenge current models of spatio-economic politics, problematise the given concepts of civilisation and barbarity as standardised positions and languages and, above all, unfold the role of contemporary art as an agent that both makes and unmakes what is considered public’.

Toril Johannessen has been invited to present Extraordinary Popular Delusions, previously shown during dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. The work consists of a projector, custom-built in the style of an old historical magic lantern that displays an image of the sun. The work 'relates to energy cycles and economy by establishing a metaphorical and material relationship between the source of light and the projected image through the use of petroleum, an outcrop of the earth. The works’ concern overlap with that of the biennial by relating to economy, like the “secret cycles” of finance, stock-market prices and sunspot cycles’.

Elmgreen & Dragset will take part in the biennial with a site-specific project, where they question public domain from different perspectives, aiming to ‘address the generational breaks and historical transformations experienced in both public space and the political realm in Istanbul’. The project will take place in the Galata Greek Primary School, built on an existing inclination within their oeuvre. In a performance in 2003 in Paris, France, five young men were invited to spend the duration of the exhibition thinking, keeping journals and writings in notebooks inside a space full of desks. The artists later included these writings in a publication. These works ‘function as a way of returning to themes of personal and subjective existence, collective thought and individual time, recalling that politics is a problem of language above all else’.

For press inquiries, please contact the Coordinator for International Press Elif Obdan.

Toril Johannessen (b.1978 in Trondheim, Norway, lives and works in Bergen, Norway) holds a BA and MA from the Bergen National Academy of Arts and was trained at the Mountain School of Arts, Los Angeles, CA, USA. She was one of the participating artists in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012). Her work has been presented at Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Bergen Art Museum, Bergen, Norway; CSA Space in Vancouver, Canada and INCA, Detroit, MI, USA, among others.

Elmgreen & Dragset is an artist duo consisting of Michael Elmgreen (b.1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (b.1968 in Trondheim, Norway). They have been working together in London, UK and Berlin, Germany since 1995. Presentations of their work include 'The Fourth Plinth', Trafalgar Square, London, UK (2012-13); Performa 11, New York, NY, USA, (2011); 'Celebrity: The One and the Many', ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark (2011) and ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany (2010). In 2009 Elmgreen & Dragset curated the international exhibition within the Nordic and Danish pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, Italy, which was awarded with a special mention by the jury for their curatorial work.

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway is a foundation created by The Norwegian Ministry of Culture and The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in autumn 2001. The main aim of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway is to develop collaborations in contemporary art between Norway and the international art scene. The Office for Contemporary Art Norway aims to become a key contributor to the discourses of contemporary art.