Vasif Kortun, one of the inspired forces behind the rising passion for contemporary art in Istanbul -- and the success of many of Turkey's young artists -- has been named to curate the UAE pavilion for the 2011 Venice Biennale. Kortun, whom I met years ago in Istanbul when I wrote a story about the Istanbul art scene for Art & Auction, was the founding curator of the Elgiz Museum; subsequently, he founded Platform Garanti Art Center, an alternative space and archive for works by young artists.
The appointment, though, is not without irony; in 2006, the New York Observer observed:
"Next year, in 2007, I think it's like the year of the suicide—the art world commits suicide," said Vasif Kortun. "It starts with Moscow, and then there's the Emirates, and then there's Venice, then in Istanbul; there's Documenta, there is Muenster Sculpture Projects—there's like fifty biennials next year."
Mr. Kortun, whose polite patience punctuates his lengthy disquisitions on the state of the contemporary art world, holds some responsibility for this biennial blitz. After all, it was he who founded the one in his native Istanbul.
But Kortun's eye for talent is sharp, and his instincts are striking-hot. I look forward to seeing what he does for the UAE - and the response.