Your new weekly routine: Online film selection by the Istanbul Biennial

In its thirty-three years-long journey, Istanbul Biennial has always traced flourishing ideas, excitements and wonders in the midst of various fluctuations and uncertainties. These times when we reconsider the boundaries of our lives all around the world, also generate new spaces to revisit the relationship we form with our surroundings and ourselves.

We hope that today, art will find an even greater outreach, and reckon that imagination is incredibly vast to be defined by physical boundaries. To celebrate art in all its forms in these times, we will be opening two artist films to online access every Friday in weekly periods.

The artists who will take part in the online selection with their films in the coming weeks are Halil Altındere, Francis Alÿs, Volkan Aslan, Ozan Atalan, Ed Atkins, Alper Aydın, Rossella Biscotti, Kristina Buch, Vajiko Chachkhiani, Jonathas de Andrade, Elmas Deniz, Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe, Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra, Theaster Gates, Suzanne Husky, Pierre Huyghe, Emre Hüner, Rashid Johnson, Georgie Nettell, Armin Linke, Amar Kanwar, Maider López, Basim Magdy, Melvin Moti, Erkan Özgen, Zeyno Pekünlü, Cheng Ran, Mika Rottenberg, Pelin Tan and Anton Vidokle, Kaari Upson, Adrián Villar Rojas and Phillip Zach.

We extend our thanks to all the biennial artists for their support to the project and hope this selection of thirty films will guide you through many different territories.

Enjoy the screenings!


Melvin Moti
The Prisoner’s Cinema, 2008
35 mm film with sound
Courtesy of the artist.

*The film is not subtitled upon the artist's request. Please click here to download the subtitles in English, and here for subtitles in Turkish.

Melvin Moti
Moti was born in 1977 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He lives and works in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

In 1954 scientist John Lilly first used a sensory deprivation tank, also known as an isolation tank. In order to respond to the hypothesis that the brain will fall asleep after prolonged lack of sensory stimuli, Lilly conducted several sessions in his tank and discovered that instead of falling asleep, the brain will do the exact opposite; it becomes hyperactive. As an effect, one starts to have intense hallucinations.

The Prisoner’s Cinema is a phenomenon which is described in neuro and optical science as visual hallucinations as a result of prolonged visual deprivation. Prisoners confined in a dark cell have repeatedly reported this phenomenon, hence the name. Whenever a person is completely cut off from visual information, as a result of looking at a ‘blank screen’, visual hallucinations will appear. They take the form of geometric light shapes which are seemingly ‘projected’ about a hand stretch away from the subject.

This experience can be related to cinema, as well as an ‘inside-out’ experience of ones own body (Whatever happens inside of us is directly projected outside, without interference of external stimulus). Although these ‘projections’ can clearly be seen, it is impossible to record the experience, thus remaining as hyper-personal visual experiences; much like dreams.

>> Click here to play the video on Vimeo.

Erkan Özgen
Breath, 2008
Single channel digital video, colour, sound
Courtesy of the artist.

Erkan Özgen
Özgen was born in 1971 in Derik, Mardin, Turkey. He lives and works in Diyarbakır, Turkey.

In this video, we see a man in a balaclava pounding the streets of Diyarbakir until he reaches a valley in the outskirts of the city. When he gets to a hilltop overlooking the valley, he takes off his balaclava, looks over the city and breathes deeply. Seeing him walk in the empty streets creates an uncanny feeling. Emptiness does not produce the same feeling in the city as it does in the nature. We expect to see people on the streets of the city. This perhaps explains the fearful character’s strife to get out of the city. He attempts to get rid of the terror and the chaotic fear that an empty city triggers.

This work takes on an extra meaning in the actual context of the COVID-19 crisis, as we have all been faced by the emptiness of our streets and cities, and can feel the invisible fear growing with each day of the lockdown restrictions.

>> Click here to play the video on Vimeo.

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