The beleaguered Istanbul Biennial has a new director. The curator and researcher Kevser Güler takes up the role on 15 January according to a statement published on Friday by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), which oversees the exhibition.
Bige Örer, the former director of the Istanbul Biennial, announced she was stepping down last month. Her departure follows a row over the appointment of Iwona Blazwick as curator of the 2024 edition by İKSV. The 18th Istanbul Biennial is due to take place later this year (14 September-17 November).
A spokesperson for İKSV said that Örer’s “decision was not linked to the curator selection process. Bige Örer took this decision to consider her own professional journey and future goals”. Preparations for the 18th Istanbul Biennial continue as planned under the coordination of the biennial team.
In February, the Istanbul Biennial’s advisory board unanimously chose the Turkish curator Defne Ayas as the best candidate to curate the next biennial. But the İKSV rejected the board’s recommendation and instead appointed Blazwick, the former director of the Whitechapel Gallery. At the time of her selection, Blazwick was a serving member of the advisory panel tasked with choosing a curator for the biennial.
Izmir-born Güler graduated from the department of industrial engineering at Boğaziçi University and studied philosophy at Galatasaray University. She worked for the Istanbul Biennial between 2007 and 2014 and was the assistant curator for the 13th Istanbul Biennial in 2013.
Güler was also part of the founding team of the Cappadox Festival Contemporary Art Programme and was in post as the festival’s associate curator between 2015 and 2017. She also worked as curator and exhibitions director at Yapı Kredi Culture and Arts—the contemporary art organisation founded by the eponymous bank—from 2020 to 2021.