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show & tell
Istanbul Design Biennial theme, dates announced
Sep 7, 2016

The third annual Istanbul Design Biennial, this year hewing to the theme of “Are We Human? The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years,” will be held October 22 through December 4. The show, curated by architectural historians Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley and organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, will explore the relationship between the concepts of “design” and “human.”


The European Space Agency’s visualization of space debris orbiting the Earth, from “Are We Human?”; courtesy ESA

Instead of focusing on the past two years as a biennial usually does, the organization expanded the scope of the show to include works spanning from 200,000 years ago to “2 seconds ago.” The curators have called the show an archaeological project, which will not focus on specific designers, but instead will include various media, including photography, illustrations, animations and posters, with the hope of putting contemporary design in context with human existence. Archaeological artifacts from Turkey and the surrounding region will be included at the center of the show to frame today’s thinking on design.

Colomina and Wigley share, “Design always presents itself as serving the human, but its real ambition is to redesign the human. The history of design is therefore a history of evolving conceptions of the human. To talk about design is to talk about the state of our species.”

Throughout 2016, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has explored this theme through events, classes, workshops and online discussions in preparation for the show’s exhibitions. The exhibitions will be held at Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Galata Greek Primary School, DEPO, Alt and Studio X.

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