Biennials are large-scale international contemporary art exhibitions and are indispensable events for exhibiting art in today’s world. The biennials held in different cities across Türkiye attract global audiences every year, and bring international and local art together.
The longest-running biennial in Türkiye, the İstanbul Biennial is organized since 1987 by the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV). Today, the İstanbul Biennial is considered one of the most prestigious biennials alongside those of Venice, São Paolo, and Sydney - it attracts over 500,000 visitors from across the world during its 3-month-long presence. The biennial aims to bring artists from diverse cultures and audiences together, and to make İstanbul a meeting point for the visual arts. One of the most comprehensive international art exhibitions organized both in Türkiye and in the immediate region, the İstanbul Biennial plays an important role in the promotion of contemporary artists from Türkiye and other countries in the international arena. The İstanbul Biennial is a member of the International Biennial Association, an organization that brings together the world’s most prestigious biennials.
İstanbul Design Biennial
The İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) also organizes the İstanbul Design Biennial since 2012 with the aim of exploring a wide range of fields related to design, including architecture, urban planning, interior design, industrial design, graphic design, fashion, textiles, and new media.
Mardin, one of the most historical cities in Türkiye, has hosted the Mardin Biennial since 2010. The main aim of the Mardin Biennial, which is highly regarded both in Türkiye and abroad, is to transform Mardin into a center of contemporary art by bringing contemporary art from the west of the country to the east. The city’s idiosyncratic architectural structures, which have deep roots in history, become exhibition venues for the biennial. During the biennial, Mardin, famous for its cultural, historical, and geographical wealth, is transformed into a site of encounters with diverse and captivating contemporary art. The biennial plays an important role in Mardin’s re-inventing itself, establishing relations with the world, meeting local and international artists with the city and society, making the historical and artistic accumulation and production of the region visible. The Mardin Biennial is a member of the International Biennial Association.
The Çanakkale Biennial has been held since 2008 by the Çanakkale Biennial Initiative (CABININ), a Çanakkale-based non-profit initiative formed by the cooperation of collaborators from different fields and professions. The biennial’s main aims are to integrate contemporary art into the daily lives of people, and to create a democratic platform through art’s unique language that examines and addresses social issues relating to the country, the region, and the greater world. The biennial takes place at locations that have been selected purposefully with the idea of seamlessly integrating the biennial’s activities with the city’s everyday landscape. The Çanakkale Biennial is a member of the International Biennial Association since 2014, has received the Institutional Honorary Award at the TÜYAP International Art Fair in 2015, and was awarded the Anatolian Award by the BAKSI Culture and Art Foundation in 2020.
Sinopale | International Sinop Biennial
Sinopale, organized in Sinop, is not just a contemporary art exhibition but a process-oriented, participatory civil society movement. It is a "collective work" event where artists produce their works together with Sinop’s residents. Organized by the European Cultural Association and Sinop Sustainable Development Association, Sinopale encourages research on various forms of participation through local movements, civil society initiatives, and civil society policies. The biennial consists of many events in different formats; workshops, field trips, and temporary performance events are organized without hierarchical structures, and are spread throughout Sinop’s city center and region. Additionally, open-air film screenings, the Sinopale Film Festival, the Sinop Summer Academy, Sinopale Forum and Sinopale Kids educational programs invite local residents and guests to more interaction and cultural exchange.