Press Release:
Tacita Dean, Territorial Agency, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Madelon Vriesendorp and Lucy McRae are among the British contributors announced for the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial

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Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and co-sponsored by Enka Foundation and VitrA, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial will be held from 22 October to 4 December 2016. Entitled ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species : 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years, the biennial will explore the intimate relationship between the concepts of “design” and “human.”

Co-curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley organised the Symposium “ARE WE HUMAN?: DESIGN AFTER DESIGN” held at the Architectural Association in London (13 May 2016). They explained:

“We live in a time when everything is designed, from our carefully crafted individual looks and online identities, to the surrounding galaxies of personal devices, new materials, interfaces, networks, systems, infrastructures, data, chemicals, organisms, and genetic codes. Even the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer. There is no longer an outside to the world of design. Design has become the world. The default concept of “good design” that was incubated in London in the mid nineteenth-century is no longer adequate. It is an anesthetic that has worn off. The urgent question is what is design after design?”

During the Symposium, which featured the exhibition architect, Andres Jacque (head of the Madrid-based Office of Political Innovation) and several British based-participants in the biennial, along with design historians, theorists and critics, co-curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley have announced the names of some of the British and UK-based participants invited to contribute in the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial:


Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen, The Immortal, Life support machines, stainless steel, acrylic, maple wood, vinyl tubing, 160 x 300 x 350 cm

Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, Tacita Dean, Lesley Lokko, Marhsmallow Laser Feast, Lucy McRae, Territorial Agency (John Palmesino and Ann-Sofie Ronnskog), Jussi Parikka, Madelon Vriesendorp, Mathew Hale, and Eyal Weizman.

Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s London-based practice is occupied with broad meanings of material and production. Their contributions to the biennial investigate the global distribution of extracted resources fed by the human dependence on electronics and the desire to make machines replicate organisms and anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering.


Tacita Dean, Human Treasure, 16mm colour film with optical sound, 15:00 min

Tacita Dean is an English-born, Berlin-based artist who works in many media with special emphasis on film. Her contribution to the exhibition is a 15-minutes film that explores the idea of “Human Treasure,” denoting someone who has been classified by the Japanese government as reaching the top of their craft or performance skill in the traditional arts, literally someone with “Important Intangible Cultural Properties.” In this film, Dean follows Kyogen performer Sensaku Shigeyama as he performs his daily routine, as if savouring the two words “human” and “treasure.”

Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish, Johannesburg-based author and architect. Her project—a collaboration between tutors and students at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg—explores the notions of “place” and “origin” by looking at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site (the world’s richest early hominin site some 50km northwest of Johannesburg), and the world’s oldest meteorite crater, the Vredefort Dome.


Marshmallow Laser Feast with Analog, FBFX, Duologue, Memex, HD Video and 3D printed models, 4:19 min

Marshmallow Laser Feast are a London-based design studio that employs a wealth of creative disciplines, from photo-real virtual reality to robotic performance and real-time mapping. Their participation (in collaboration with Analog, FBFX and the band Duologue) is a 3D study of mortality through the use of new photographic processes, in this case photogrammetry.

Lucy McRae is a sci-fi artist, director and self-proclaimed Body Architect probing the frontiers of the body, health and human adaptability. Her film work for the biennial deals with the subject of health, medicine and the human body from the perspective of science fiction.


Territorial Agency, Museum of Oil, Extra-large images of oil territories looming over a landscape of screens.

John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Ronnskog of Territorial Agency is an independent organisation that innovatively investigates sustainable territorial transformations. For the Istanbul Design Biennial, they will explore contested landscapes such as Canada and the Mediterranean Sea that have been rendered fragile and untenable by the global web of the oil industry. The Museum of Oil project collects information, objects, and data that forms hard evidence for the radical decision to keep oil in the ground, resulting in an extraordinary mapping system portraying in forensic detail the design of vast territories reshaped by the human addiction to fossil fuel.

Jussi Parikka is a writer, media theorist and professor in technological culture and aesthetics at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. His installation, in collaboration with Ayhan Aytes, explores the automata designed and constructed during the Arabic-Islamic Renaissance from early 9th to the 13th century.

Madelon Vriesendorp is a Dutch-born, London-based artist. She is widely known for her seminal cycle of anthropomorphic architectural paintings, her deep interest pop, bad taste, surrealism and her installations drawing from her extensive collection of small-scale tchotchkes and figurines. Her contribution to the biennial explores the ways in which the idea of the human is invested in domestic galaxies of little objects.

Mathew Hale is an English-born, Berlin-based artist who works primarily in collages, projections, sculptures and installations. His work for the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial focuses on the house of Marilyn Monroe to explore the concepts of celebrity, domesticity, corporeality and death among others.

Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of Visual Cultures and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. His “Forensic Architecture” project for the Biennial in collaboration with photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke, and architect and urbanist Paolo Tavares explores the “archaeology” of abandoned orangutan nests in Indonesia.

About the Istanbul Design Biennial

The Istanbul Design Biennial, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and taking place since 2012, aims to bring together a diverse cross section of design ideas, exploring a wide range of fields concerning design. Seeding ideas and fostering dialogue and intersections within the creative and academic community, the biennial operates on a network of national and international collaborations with cultural agents, institutions, universities and companies. Using the city as a dynamic space for projects, actions and interventions the biennial tackles global design problems by discussing the notion of design, stimulating critical debate, foregrounding underexplored or overlooked aspects of society and prompting further investigation into and exchange about emerging conditions of our world. Committed to design as a tool for understanding its complex role in today’s society the biennial operates as a progressive discussion platform in permanent transformation.

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