Analyzing the Key Points

  • The longtime director of the Istanbul Biennial, Bige Örer, will be leaving her position on January 15, 2024.
  • The Istanbul Biennial has faced criticism for its selection process for the curator of the 2024 edition.
  • Curator Defne Ayas was initially chosen by a group of specialists, but the IKSV rejected her in favor of Iwona Blazwick.
  • The rejection of Ayas may have been influenced by a past controversy regarding the Turkish Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, which included mention of the Armenian genocide.
  • Four artists quit the 2024 biennial in protest, raising concerns about transparency and the selection committee members.
  • The IKSV has pledged to overhaul its curator selection process to ensure greater transparency.
  • Despite the criticism, Iwona Blazwick will still curate the 2024 Istanbul Biennial.
  • A new director for the biennial will be announced in the near future.

Potential Future Trends in the Art Exhibition Industry

The controversy surrounding the selection process of the Istanbul Biennial’s curator for the 2024 edition highlights ongoing issues and potential future trends in the art exhibition industry. The key points from the text indicate a need for greater transparency, improved selection processes, and the importance of acknowledging and addressing historical and political sensitivities.

Transparency and Selection Processes

The criticism faced by the Istanbul Biennial is a reflection of increasing expectations for transparency within the art exhibition industry. The controversy over choosing a curator for the 2024 edition has raised concerns about conflicts of interest and the lack of disclosure regarding the members of the selection committee. This indicates a potential future trend towards more transparent selection processes, with organizations being required to disclose the criteria and individuals involved in curator selections.

Recommendation: It is essential for organizations managing art exhibitions to adopt transparent selection processes. This can include publicly announcing the names of committee members, publishing clear guidelines for the selection criteria, and inviting public input or feedback on curator choices. Implementing these recommendations will help rebuild trust and ensure that the selection process is fair and unbiased.

Addressing Historical and Political Sensitivities

The rejection of curator Defne Ayas may have been influenced by a controversy surrounding the Turkish Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, which mentioned the Armenian genocide. This incident raises important questions about how art exhibitions address historical and political sensitivities. In an increasingly globalized world, it is crucial for exhibition organizers to navigate sensitive topics carefully and promote diverse perspectives.

Recommendation: Art exhibition organizers should prioritize open dialogue and collaboration when addressing sensitive historical and political subjects. Including diverse perspectives, engaging in respectful conversations, and providing contextual information can help mitigate potential controversies. Art exhibitions should be platforms for critical engagement, fostering understanding and dialogue rather than avoiding difficult topics.

Role of Organizational Leadership

The departure of Bige Örer as the longtime director of the Istanbul Biennial also raises questions about the role of organizational leadership in the success and reputation of art exhibitions. A new director for the biennial will be announced soon, which presents an opportunity for fresh perspectives and approaches in managing large-scale art events.

Recommendation: The art exhibition industry should encourage a diverse range of leaders with varied experiences and backgrounds to take on leadership roles. This can help bring new perspectives, foster innovation, and promote inclusivity within the industry. Organizations should prioritize leadership development programs and encourage collaborations across different cultural and artistic spheres.

Predictions for the Industry

  • Increased demand for transparency: In light of recent controversies, there will likely be growing demand from the public, artists, and art professionals for greater transparency in curator selections and decision-making processes of art exhibitions.
  • Emphasis on inclusive and diverse programming: Future trends may see art exhibitions becoming more inclusive and diverse in terms of exhibiting artists, curators, and themes. This will reflect a broader recognition of the importance of representation and the need to showcase diverse voices and perspectives.
  • Digital integration and hybrid models: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital platforms in the art world. Future trends may see a continuation of hybrid exhibition models, combining physical and virtual experiences to reach wider audiences and make art more accessible.
  • Increased focus on ethical considerations: Art exhibitions will likely face increasing scrutiny regarding ethical considerations, such as the handling of sensitive topics, cultural appropriation, and environmental sustainability. Organizations will need to proactively address these issues to maintain credibility and relevance.


The controversy surrounding the Istanbul Biennial’s curator selection process raises important considerations for the art exhibition industry as a whole. Greater transparency, sensitivity towards historical and political issues, and diverse leadership are crucial for the future success and relevancy of art exhibitions. By addressing these areas, the industry can move towards a more inclusive, ethically conscious, and engaging future.


  1. “Bige Örer to step down as director of Istanbul Biennial” – The Art Newspaper
  2. “Istanbul Biennial sticks with second choice” – The Art Newspaper
  3. “Four artists quit Istanbul Biennial 2024 as controversy over curator extends to artists” – The Art Newspaper