Ugo Rondinone’s work for the 15th Istanbul Biennial is an outdoor sculpture of a rainbow that spells out the words: ‘Where do we go from here?’ Part of his ‘Rainbow Poems’ series, enigmatic phrases about shared experience in public space, it is an adaptation of a work first shown at the 6th Istanbul Biennial in 1999. The new piece was permanently placed outside an important cultural venue in Istanbul: the Mustafa Kemal Cultural Centre near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

This arc of many colours placed in a public space has multiple meanings. On the one hand, the rainbow has long been a symbol of solidarity in relation to the LGBTI community. As a harbinger of hope – a prism of light emerging from the clouds – it represents a positive message. On the other hand, the phrase ‘Where do we go from here?’ can be seen as a somewhat humorous concession to uncertainty regarding the path forward in difficult or fraught times, a moment of questioning in the face of precariousness or instability.

The form of Rondinone’s work, vibrant and ludic, is intended to convey a spirit of conviviality, shared experience and communal wonderment toward the future. The broad spectrum of colours in the piece, however, can also be interpreted as a symphony of varying moods and tonalities, and thus may point to the junctures, dissonances and confluences of difference in the face of mutual uncertainty.

Ugo Rondinone

Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964, Brunnen, Switzerland) is a renowned mixed-media artist who lives and works in New York. Recent solo shows include: the world just makes me laugh, BAMPFA; i  john giorno, various institutions, New York and Palais de Tokyo, Paris; let’s start this day again, CAC Cincinnati; golden days + silver nights, Macro and Mercati e Foro di Traiano, Rome; seven magic mountains, Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art; becoming soil, Carre d'Art, Nîmes; everytime the sun comes up, Place Vendome, Paris; vocabulary of solitude, Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and breathe walk die, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai.

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