17th Istanbul Biennial asks the children: What are the birds thinking?

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) with the support of the 2007–2026 Biennial Sponsor Koç Holding, the 17th Istanbul Biennial is preparing to expand to the whole city after opening its doors in September. Within the scope of the biennial, the project titled “What Are The Birds Thinking?” invites children and accompanying adults from all over Turkey and different countries of the world to lift their heads up and think about birds.

Focusing on children aged 6-14, “What Are The Birds Thinking?” also invites accompanying adults, teachers and experts from different fields to observe and think about birds and reconnect with nature. The project, which will be realised by the Istanbul Biennial and İKSV Alt Kat, is a collaboration between Education Reform Initiative (ERG), Hisar Schools, Teachers Network and Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Pera Museum Learning Programmes and Today at Apple. Experts, artists, teachers, scientists from many different disciplines can also participate in the programme.

The project aims to initiate a creative process to redirect the imagination of children and reconnect them with birds, nature and non-humans; and start multi-dimensional conversations about all that connects to the birds. It will make way for developing children's ability to listen, observe, concentrate, record and research by posing questions such as: “What are the birds thinking?”, “If they could speak to us, what would they say?” and “What can we learn by watching the birds?”.

These questions to be addressed to children regarding how birds think, how they see people, the effects of environmental changes on their lives, their shelter, nutrition and movements are compiled in two guidebooks, prepared for teachers and accompanying adults. Comprehensive information and resources on bird watching are also incorporated in these guidebooks.

Open call from the biennial to all bird watchers aged 6-14
All children in the age group of 6 to 14 can follow the guidebooks and upload their answers and observations in text, painting, photograph, audio or video formats via the following link to participate in the project: https://forms.gle/gdgs3XP99hMAH6mY7

The posts to be shared by participants will be published on the project website in July, and a selection of these posts will meet the audience in various platforms during the 17th Istanbul Biennial as of its opening on 17 September. Within the scope of the project, bird watching tours and workshops will be held simultaneously with the biennial.

Detailed information about “What Are The Birds Thinking?” can be followed on the social media accounts of the Istanbul Biennial and İKSV Alt Kat.

İstanbul Biennial and İKSV Alt Kat
Organised by İKSV since 1987, the Istanbul Biennial aims to create a meeting point in Istanbul in the field of visual arts between artists and audiences from different cultures. The Istanbul Biennial, which brings together new trends in contemporary art every two years and presents it to the audience, has enabled the establishment of an international cultural network between domestic and international art circles, artists, curators and critics for more than 30 years.

İKSV Alt Kat is a learning and interaction space established on the ground floor of the Nejat Eczacıbaşı Building in Şişhane in 2019, within the body of İKSV. It presents event and workshop programmes throughout the year in collaboration with İKSV's festivals and biennials, in the field of learning and interaction, on digital platforms and event venues, especially for children and young people, for groups with limited access to cultural and artistic activities. Continuing its activities within the scope of İKSV Cultural Policy Studies, İKSV Alt Kat brings together cultural professionals, civil society workers, artists, educators and audiences; functioning as a participatory, polyphonic, multicultural, accessible and flexible platform.

Education Reform Initiative
ERG, is an independent and not-for-profit think-and-do-tank that contributes to systemic transformation in education for development of the child and society through sound evidence, constructive dialogue and innovative/critical thinking. Evidence-based decision-making processes in education concerning stakeholder engagement and ensuring the access of all children to quality education are the key elements of systemic transformation. ERG, established in 2003, is a good example for the Turkish civil society, since it is an initiative supported by leading foundations in Turkey. ERG carries out its’ research and education activities through ERG Education Observatory Unit and Education Laboratory. Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), Aydın Doğan Foundation, Borusan Kocabıyık Foundation, ELginkan Foundation, ENKA Foundation, Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul Kültür University, Kadir Has Foundation, Mehmet Zorlu Foundation, MV Holding, Sabanci University, Tekfen Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, Vehbi Koç Foundation and Yapı Merkezi.

Hisar Schools
Hisar Schools were established in 1996 by the Hisar Education Foundation as a continuation of its mission to raise academic standards in Turkey. The school is committed to “discovering and developing the true potential within” of its students by blending the 21st century curriculum with innovative and progressive learning. Hisar Schools, which has left behind its 25th year in the field of education today, with its academic programmes at the Preschool, Primary, Secondary and High School levels in the integrity of K-12, its flexible education approach that constantly renews itself, its technology and education centres increasing every year, its studies and collaborations with international organizations, as well as well-equipped academic and administrative staff and more than 1400 students, is among the leading schools in Turkey.

Teachers Network
Teachers Network aims at teacher empowerment by creating a sustainable learning environment where teachers can collaborate with their colleagues and stakeholders to education from various disciplines. Teachers Network performs its operations under Education Reform Initiative, steering with the support and funds provided by six leading foundations in the education field in Turkey: Aydın Doğan Foundation, We Live Together - Education and Social Research Foundation (BAYETAV), Enka Foundation, Mehmet Zorlu Foundation, Sabanci Foundation, and Vehbi Koç Foundation. The network aims to create change with the teachers, not on behalf of the teachers. The main aim is to form a learning society where every single part of the network co-creates via utilizing interaction among different disciplines, adopting the concept of lifelong learning, and developing constant collaborations with every stakeholder in the field of education.

Pera Learning Programmes
Learning at Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Pera Museum includes the activities carried out to bring children, young people and adults together with art, to create a museum awareness, to make art accessible and to communicate between the audience and the exhibited works. In these activities, which are based on interpretation and creativity, creativity is supported while evaluating the works. The learning programme, reinforced by hands-on work in the workshop, also aims to make the museum a part of social life. The “Pera Learning” programs, created for this purpose, continue throughout the year with colourful and creative activities prepared for different age groups and special education students for temporary exhibitions as well as collection exhibitions.

Today at Apple
Apple's global creative program, offering free sessions in-store and online that inspire hands-on creativity in photography, art, design, coding, music and more.

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