Since 1987, the Istanbul Biennial has become a fundamental part of Turkey’s art scene as well as an important attractor for its neighbour countries. At different locations within the old and modern part of Istanbul, the inhabitants and thousands of foreign visitors have the chance to experience the latest forms and concepts of contemporary art as well as plural facets of the city. Since its first organization, the Istanbul Biennale has introduced first Western and now international contemporary art to the local scene, promoted Turkish art to the global network and presented Istanbul as a modern, open minded and democratic city, which is merged with the evolution of European art and culture.
However, due to the Istanbul Biennial’s location in the “periphery” of the western art world and its location east of the Eurocentric gaze, the history of the biennial is not without challenges and struggles. Because of its hybrid character it is geopolitically situated between various cultures and is, in spite of this, promoting mainly western art and using a western exhibition model to become part of a westernized global art net.
Marcus Graf, (Germany, b.1974) has been living and working in Istanbul since 2001. After studying Cultural Sciences and Esthetical Communication at the Institute for Fine Arts, Aesthetics and Art History at the University of Hildesheim, Germany, he has worked for several institutions of art and culture as a curator, instructor, writer, project manager or artist. He received his PhD in 2010 from the Institute of Contemporary Art History, Aesthetic and Art Theory at Stuttgart Art Academy in Germany.
In 2009, Graf was selected to curate the exhibition Temporary Harassment for “Istanbul 2010 – European Capital of Culture”. In 2007, he was chosen to be the co-curator of the 10th Istanbul Biennial project nightcomers. He was the artistic director of Aviva Art Program (2006 - 2007). Between 2005 and 2007, Graf has worked as the artistic director and curator of the mobile art space Under Construction. He also was the resident curator of the exhibition space Siemens Sanat (2003 - 2007). Since 2003, he is a lecturer at the Fine Arts Faculty of Yeditepe University in Istanbul.