I will be at the Tokyo Wonder Site research residency until the beginning of June. More to come.
Purchase College Center for Community and Culture (PC4) presents Sinking Cities, curated by Tal Beery and Steven Lam. This exhibition and event series connects NYC and Yonkers-based artists and community leaders whose projects wrestle with our reliance on vulnerable waterways.
Artists: Mary Mattingly, Eve Mosher, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Hakan Topal, Center for the Urban River, and Photography Expanded with Brooke Singer.
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 15, 2:30-4pm
PC4: Purchase College Center for Community and Culture,
16 Warburton Ave. Yonkers, NY 10701
Solvents: Saturday, April 15, 4-7:30pm
Edges: Saturday, April 22, 1-4pm
The artists of Sinking Cities reinterpret the waterfront as a site of access and contention, threat and promise. They reconsider the role of waterfront development in a new climate era of higher storm surges and frequent flooding; they propose new modes of access to reclaim the water as a public good; they resurrect invisible histories buried beneath new glass-and-steel high rises; they dream up new solutions to realistic scenarios; and they locate us in the complex web of water and capital flows that sustain contemporary life.
This show will be organized around a series of drifts and anchors. During the show, two drifts – themed meanderings through the city of Yonkers – will include scheduled encounters with experts and artists, thus partnering various cultural organizations with multiple artists and practitioners. Each drift will be anchored to the Yonkers space through artworks that comprise the installation. This method of tying exhibition with engagement is grounded in the notion that storytelling and the display of objects are agents of recovery and resistance. The exhibition and events revolve around five themes:
Sinking Cities connects artists, educators, and community leaders with opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange on urgent issues confronting Yonkers residents.
(Event image: Sarah Cameron Sunde, research documentation for “36.5 / a durational performance with the sea” as part of Marie Lorenz’s “Tide and Current Taxi” (2015), photo by Marie Lorenz. )
By xurban_collective, 2017
* Text written as part of Harbor exhibition on view at Istanbul Modern.
* Turkcesi asagida (Turkish version is below).
Between 2000 to 2012, as xurban_collective we researched the assault on social and spatial justice on a global scale. This onslaught is a total mobilization against the very foundation of democracy — the commons. The looting of common resources, the degradation of the public sphere, the dissolution of social bonds, the corruption of souls, and the dominance of morality over ethics happened mainly in cities. The sad part is that the masses voluntarily participated in this augmented cultural, economic and political attack.
History echoes itself in a non-cyclical way.
We foresaw what was coming. In S.i.e.g.e.c.r.a.f.t (2004), we compared the siege of Istanbul in both real and metaphorical enunciations by contemplating Istanbul’s panorama; the quickly changing city-scape provided various clues about what happened, and what was going to happen next. The city is a witness. It wisely told us a silent story; neoliberalism was indeed a tragedy wrapped up in the excitement of a gold rush. The sad thing is that almost everyone got caught in this extravaganza as Istanbul was marketed as the destination, the emerging market, the up and coming city. Foreign pundits wrote op-eds about how art, culture, politics and the economy were so rosy, and everything indeed smelt like tulips. Now that this era is over, we know how the story unfolded. The city was right.
During medieval times, the siege employed military forces encircling the city walls; relentless and cunning attacks were crafted to suffocate the residents. Surrender or die! Today the siege comes with a modified order; surrender or not be financed. It is not by military forces, but the [MBA-educated] financial elite masterminded the onslaught by using discursive strategies to overcome legal barriers. The neoliberal reasoning penetrates the public agenda, dominating every single mouthpiece, starting from newspaper pages on economics. The next thing you know, every single pundit starts to talk about the economic realities of the 21st century. What they really championed was the deregulation and conquering of the commons at the expense of democracy. Privatization — the looting of the commons — extracts every little bit from the public. David Harvey likens this contemporary capitalist rush to a tsunami; capital flows into the emerging markets with great excitement, when it withdraws it leaves social, political and economic devastation behind. However, we think that the capital influx is more like wastewater overflowing from the toilet. Yes, it arrives within, and once it starts to overflow no one can stop it, until it is too late. In this respect the financial crises are pragmatically used as a way to keep the working classes in check; it is “the accumulation through dispossession,” as Harvey puts it. While societies crumble, privatization, depoliticization, and the exploitation of natural resources charges full steam.
The neoconservative order has no ethics, no taboo, no sacred places. Any location can be exploited without guilt. For instance, let’s look at Mecca — the holiest site on earth for Muslims — transformed into something similar to Las Vegas; numerous historical sites, including an Ottoman Castle, were erased to erect condominiums and a shopping mall. One wonders why Muslims do not raise their voices. In Istanbul, the outlook is no different, and the consequences are equally devastating. The cityscape has been altered with kitschy replicas of Ottoman architecture supplemented by thousands of ugly corporate design.
A city is a machine in perpetual flux. Feudal forces work vigorously to rechannel its energy. The land is extracted from its waterfront; the sky is occupied, views are blocked. Waterfronts, old ports, and city centers are redefined at an unprecedented speed. Global tourism relentlessly consumes as philistines invade the city center, and leave garbage piles and decay behind. The [religious] bourgeoisie is content with this degradation, degeneration, and disgrace; as long as their coffers are filled with fresh dollars, they happily support these nasty developments.
While the tyranny of the market is ever growing, port cities share a common destiny. As money overflows, nationalist/religious rhetoric stinks, and breeds fundamentalism.
We cannot be silent. As artists, writers, and academics, we are the cultural forces who are relentlessly resisting. When we say NO, it resonates far and beyond. When we say NO, our voices combine and get louder. When we say NO, we mean it.
Vive la resistance!
xurban_collective olarak 2000 ile 2012 yılları arasında, sosyal ve mekânsal adalete yapılan saldırıyı küresel ölçekte araştırdık. Bu taarruz, doğrudan demokrasinin temelini, yani müşterekleri hedef alan toplu bir seferberlik. Ortak kaynakların yağmalanması, kamusal alanın bozulması, ruhların yozlaşması ve etiğe ahlakçılığın hakim olması temelde şehirlerde yaşandı. Üzücü kısmı, gitgide artan kültürel, ekonomik ve siyasi hücuma kitlelerin gönüllü bir şekilde katılım göstermesi.
Tarih, periyodik olmayan bir biçimde kendisini yankılıyor.
Bunların olacağını öngörmüştük. “S.I.E.G.E.C.R.A.F.T”ta (2004), İstanbul panoraması üzerine düşünerek, şehirdeki kuşatmanın hem fiili hem de metaforik ifadelerini karşılaştırdık. Hızla değişim geçiren şehir panoraması neler yaşandığına ve sonra neler olacağına dair çeşitli ipuçları veriyordu. Şehir, tanıktır. Bilgece, sessiz bir hikaye anlattı bize; neoliberalizm, refah heyecanı kisvesine bürünmüş bir trajediydi gerçekten de. İstanbul; has istikamet, filizlenmekte olan pazar, gelecek vadeden şehir olarak pazarlanırken bu fantezi neredeyse herkesi etkisi altına almıştı ne yazık ki. Yabancı uzmanlar sanat, kültür, politika ve ekonominin hoşluğuna ve her şeyin laleler gibi pirüpak olduğuna dair yazılar kaleme alıyorlardı. O dönem sona erdi ve olayların nasıl geliştiğini biliyoruz. Şehir haklıydı.
Orta Çağ kuşatmalarında ordu şehir duvarlarını çevrelerdi; sakinleri bunaltmak adına amansız ve kurnaz saldırılar planlanırdı. Teslim ol ya da öl! Günümüzde kuşatmanın buyruğu değişmiş durumda: Teslim ol ya da finanssız kal. Saldırıyı askerler değil, [işletme yüksek lisansı yapmış] elit finans tabakası, hukuki engelleri atlatacak dolambaçlı stratejilerle idare ediyor. Neoliberal düşünce kamu gündemine nüfuz ediyor ve gazetelerin ekonomi sayfalarından başlayarak her söze egemen oluyor. Sonra her bir uzmanın 21. yüzyılın ekonomik gerçeklerinden bahsetmeye başlayıverdiğini görüyorsunuz. Asıl başardıkları şey, demokrasi pahasına, ortak olanın nizamsızlaştırılıp işgal edilmesi. Özelleştirme, yani müştereklerin yağmalanması kamunun elinde bir şey bırakmıyor. David Harvey günümüzdeki bu kapitalist hücumu bir tsunamiye benzetiyor; sermaye büyük bir coşkuyla, gelişmekte olan pazarlara akıyor ve geri çekilirken ardında toplumsal, siyasi ve ekonomik yıkım bırakıyor. Bize göre ise sermaye akışı tuvaletten taşan pis suları andırıyor daha çok. Aynen öyle, içeriden geliyor ve çoğalıp taştığında kimse onu vaktinde durduramıyor. Bu bakımdan finansal krizler pragmatik bir şekilde, çalışan kesimi kontrol altında tutma yolu olarak kullanılıyor. Harvey’nin dediği gibi, “mülksüzleştirme yoluyla birikim yapmak” bu. Toplumlar harap olurken özelleştirme, depolitizasyon ve doğal kaynakların istismarı son sürat fatura kesiyor.
Yeni muhafazakar düzenin etiği, tabusu ya da kutsal alanları yok. Her yer zerre suçluluk hissetmeden sömürülebilir. Örneğin Mekke’yi düşünelim, Müslümanlar için dünyanın en kutsal yeri olan bu şehir Las Vegas’a benzer bir hale dönüştü; özel mülkler ve bir alışveriş merkezi yapmak adına, Osmanlı döneminden bir kalenin de aralarında bulunduğu çok sayıda tarihi alan yok edildi. Müslümanların neden ses çıkarmadığını merak ediyor insan. İstanbul’da da durum hiç farklı değil ve sonuçları da aynı derecede yıkıcı. Şehrin peyzajı, Osmanlı mimarisinin zevksiz taklitleriyle ve binlerce çirkin kurumsal tasarımla başkalaşmış halde.
Şehir, daimi akış içinde bir mekanizmadır. Feodal güçler onun enerjisine yeni yönler vermek için şiddetle uğraşır. Toprak, kıyıdan koparılır; gökyüzü işgal edilir; görüş açıları tıkanır. Kıyılar, eski limanlar ve şehir merkezleri benzersiz bir hızla yeniden tanımlanır. Küresel turizm amansızca tüketiyor, kültürsüzlük şehir merkezini zaptediyor ve ardında çöp yığınları ve çürüme bırakıyor. [Dindar] burjuvazi bu bozulma, yozlaşma ve rezaletten memnun; cepler para dolduğu sürece bu nahoş gelişmeleri memnuniyetle destekliyor.
Piyasanın tahakkümü gitgide arttıkça liman şehirlerini ortak bir yazgı bekliyor. Para akışı çoğaldıkça milliyetçi/dini söylemler de buram buram yayılıyor ve muhafazakarlık palazlanıyor.
Sessiz kalamayız. Sanatçılar, yazarlar, akademisyenler olarak bizler inatla direnen kültürel güçleriz. HAYIR dediğimizde, seslerimiz bir olur ve daha gür çıkar. HAYIR dediğimizde, bunu kastederiz.
February 21st, Tuesday, 6:30pm
The James Gallery, CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, First Floor, New York
Joanna Lehan, Hakan Topal
About the Issue:
The second issue of MaHKUscript focuses on the current state of Spatial Practice. What concepts (such as territory, agency, agonistic negotiation, blurred boundaries, grassroots democracy, heterogeneity, cross-benching, participation, relational aesthetics, post-public environment, micro-urban tactics, etc.) are crucial in defining this field? Does the topical situation of thinking in terms of counter-space demand the developing of novel concepts? What role does artistic research actually play in the further articulation of critical spatial practice? Finally, what is the most strategic way to incorporate this new way of thinking and working in art education?
These are questions that cannot immediately be answered, but they invite further discussion and articulation. With this in mind MaHKUscript invited Markus Miessen (Berlin/University of Gothenburg) to deliver a keynote article. In his contribution “Crossbenching as a form of institutional Polity,” Miessen starts from the following proposition: to “do” spatial practice is to immerse oneself in a conflictual process of material production, equally including architects, artists, financiers, and builders. As a consequence, Markus Miessen argues, we have to eventually urgently reframe questions of—participatory—ethics and politics.
To test his ideas in a topical research-oriented art practice, Miessen interviewed Flaka Haliti (PhD Researcher Academy of Fine Arts Vienna). In this conversation concepts such as distance, separation, home and base are specified.
In a commissioned artist contribution “Mineral Rights,” Lara Almarcegui (Visiting Professor MaHKU Fine Art, Utrecht) addresses related questions about the concept of territory, and specifically land and resource ownership. Using two case studies (Tveitvangen and Graz) the artist links this to the topical debate about the commons.
In addition MaHKUscript made an open call for authors to contribute to the proposed debate by responding to the above questions. This resulted in a multitude of reactions and inspiring perspectives.
For a start there are the incitements of new contextualisations and formulations of artistic strategies. In her article “The Radical Potential of Poetic Gestures” Tina Carlisi (Concordia University, Montreal) proposes to take up the 1960s thinking about utopian spaces anew. By means of poetic micro-actions—such as guerrilla gardening—the author envisions developing micro-utopias that, as “shared space” can offer resistance to techno-driven and neo-liberal understandings of public space.
Laura Gibellini (School of Visual Arts, New York) also explores the potentialities of topical strategies. In her article “Not Doing. On Unpredictability and Allowing Things to Happen” she describes how both Yvonne Rainer and Philippe Parreno develop choreographies of chaos in their respective art practices. In line with philosopher Quentin Meillassoux they disrupt any linear conception of space by proposing an undetermined becoming.
Other contributions question the role and position of the—mostly globalizing—logic of the biennial, in the light of the current spatial practice discussion. In his case study “Gentrify Everything: Looking for New Forms of Critical Artistic Agency” Pieter Vermeulen (Sint Lucas, Antwerp) describes the strategic method of the small-scale BORG biennial in Antwerp that focuses mainly on the context of its location. This demonstrates, Vermeulen states, a different form of agency that can contribute to criticizing the globalizing perspective that is advocated by the neo-liberal agenda.
Hakan Topal’s (Purchase College, SUNY, New York) “Artistic Responses to Natural Disasters: The Case of New Orleans” about the Prospect New Orleans Biennial can be understood from a similar perspective. This case study evaluates how this biennial format—at the time of hurricane Katrina—offered a subtle counterbalance to the way the media spectacularized natural disasters, by inviting the participating artists (such as Superflex and Paul Chan) to re-think life in New Orleans by using the power of imagination.
Finally there are contributions that focus on further defining Critical Spatial Practice. In her article “Critical Spatial Practice as Parrhesia” Jane Rendell (Bartlett, UCL, London) proposes a further articulation of the concept. She makes a strategic link to Foucault’s interpretation of Parrhesia: critical spatial practice as a self-reflective practice that starts from the perspective of “telling truth” and questions and transforms the social conditions into which it intervenes.
Such a spatial strategy could for example take the shape of de-essentialization. In “The Real Properties of Immovable Estates: Ambiguity and the Invention of the Coast,” Daniel Fernández Pascual (Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmith’s College, London) uses the example of the development of Spanish coastal regions to show how the speculative mechanisms of real estate investments—and the circulation of capital—reclassify the natural environment in a way that creates a coastal ontology.
Critical Spatial Practice, as most of the articles in this publication clearly emphasize, continuously deconstructs the globalizing rhetoric of essentializaton by means of the dynamic perspective of transfrontier multiplicity. Such a perspective can be traced back to the transgressive potential of the historical silk road figure, concludes Mi You (Academy of Media Arts, Cologne) in her article “The Nomad, Space and Network of the Silk Roads”—a critical reflection on the eponymously named curatorial project she realized recently in the Asia Culture Center, Gwangju. Not only does it represent a maximized commodity flow, above all it represents a nomadic connectivity that contributes to a dynamic understanding of humanity’s self-awareness.
Editor: Henk Slager
I have been thinking about the Trump Presidency. Like everybody, I am extremely upset and startled. Considering the Turkish and various European cases, IMO, Trump will incorporate a combination of social democrat and racist/discriminatory policies and do the following:
Economy & Environment:
– Believe it or not, he may be the Keynesian candidate that Obama wanted to be. He needs to make his white-working-class-base satisfied by providing them jobs and education. As he declared right away, he will initiate large-scale infrastructure constructions. Military and civic projects will be strategically instigated in areas where his constituents are dominant.
– He will open the environment for extreme exploitation. I mean extreme looting; pipelines, coal mines, fracking, oil fileds on land and sea, nuclear and coal power plants… you name it!
Total ecological devastation!
– He will opt for semi-protectionist economist policies. He may try to renegotiate some trade deals but his hands are tied. We are talking about Republicans here. Usual neoliberal story: He may want to tighten up the borders for people, but he will open it up for capital flow. For instance, Apple will be able to bring its large stash of cash in… Yes, Apple will profit from Trump.
– IMO, he can not entirely repeal the Obama Care. He knows that his white base was benefiting from it. I believe he will move to a more privatized, therefore less-coverage alternative. But health is one of the areas that he can not risk too much; i.e. he needs to behave like a social democrat: half ass…
He is going to declare peace with the Latino community, as it is the largest growing population in the US. He may elect some cabinet members, offer some concessions in regard to immigration.
Blacks and Muslim immigrants, on the other hand, are the ones that are going to suffer the most. Under his administration, the security-industrial complex will strengthen. Police will be granted a relative immunity. We are talking about the extreme policing and Israelization of the US; Remember Bush? In that regard, immigrants with Muslim backgrounds will face extreme scrutiny in every aspect of life. When Trump faces criticism for other issues, he will divert the public attention to immigrants and black communities.
The fundamentalist-Christian-right finds a new home at Trump’s White House. So, like secularism, women’s rights will erode. But this is an arena where Trump will face his strongest battles.
American society changed.
1- Organize, organize, organize, but organize around social justice issues — do not cling on identity politics. Think Social Justice (ala Nancy Fraser) as equality, cultural recognition, democratic representation… Or ala Balibar: ‘equaliberty.’
2- Collectivize production, commonize public sites, institutionalize relationships. Simplify and de-bureaucratize everything else.
3- Love beats hatred. Love yourself, love your people. Love environment. Defend your loved ones.
4- We are stronger when we are hopeful. Let’s focus on building a future for all, not just for select few. In other words, enough to Western Liberalism, yes to democratic socialism (+ little bit of anarchy )
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In Defense of the Othered
Social Design 2016 Final Exhibition
Neuberger Museum Café
Opening May 3rd, 4PM – Open until May 10th
** This exhibition is organized as part of the experimental Social Design Class taught by Hakan Topal, Assistant Professor of New Media & Art+Design. Over the course of the semester, students have been actively researching issues of political representation, social justice, and the question of others.
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Contemporary Art is against the Contemporary War
Open Letter to Art Institutions
The war in Eastern Turkey escalates with increased brutality. The Turkish State applies indiscriminate cruelty against its population within the whole blockaded Kurdish region. Peace protests in Turkey are shut down with sheer force. The mainstream media are silenced, and mute. Everyday starts with news alerts of increased state violence and civilian losses. At this moment, we believe it’s time for art institutions step up their support for peace through art, and assist artists who firmly demand peace.
Dear Directors, Curators, Educators and Friends,
We urge you to consider opening your street windows and vitrines for art. Even though this may be regarded as a humble gesture, we hope you will consider artworks including installations, poetry, video, and text that question the ongoing war, discrimination, and nationalism. We hope that this peace initiative will resonate with you.
Signatures: Hakan Topal, Didem Yazıcı, Ali Akay, Defne Ayas, Adnan Yıldız, Artspace NZ, Chus Martinez, Charles Esche, Cansu Çakar, Sinem Dişli, İpek Ulusoy, Elif Erkan, Serra Tansel, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Sabine Küper-Büsch, Mehtap Baydu, Emek Ulusay, Ferhat Özgür, Aslihan Demirtas, Nermin Saybaşılı, Ege Berensel, Power Ekroth, Hrag Vartanian, Civan Özkanoğlu, Khaled Barakeh, Banu Cennetoglu, Pınar Ögrenci, Fulya Çetin, Mehmet Ulusel, Timur Çelik, Fulya Erdemci, Mirak Jamal, Ceylan Öztürk, İnci Furni, Süreyya Evren, Refik Akyüz, Bonaverture Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Zeynep Direk, Haluk Çobanoğlu, Derya Yücel, Tony Chakar, Öykü Özsoy, Korhan Erel, Rupali Patil, Metehan Özcan, Caner Aslan, Marwa Arsonias, Kari Conte, Leyla Gediz, Erdem Taşdelen, Önder Özengi, Tuce Silahtarlıoğlu, Mohammad Salemy, Jonas Staal, New World Summit, Asena Günal, Ali Taptık, Aykan Safoğlu, Feza Canlıgil, Ata Kam, Younes Baudi, Renée In der Maur, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Demet Ortaköylü, Nalan Yırtmaç, Adam Fearon, Ali Kazma, Gökşin Varan, Lorenzo Sandoval, Zeki Coşkun, Ceren Oykut, Oda Projesi, Özge Açıkkol, Güneş Savaş, Ani Schulze, Nick Wells, Leyla Ustel, Neriman Polat, CANAN, Volkan Aslan, Sanatorium, Marsistanbul, Labaratuvar, Işın Önol, AICA-TR (Uluslararası Sanat Eleştirmenleri Derneği Türkiye Şubesi), Yasemin Özcan, Özlem Altın, Erkan Özgen, Didem Erbaş, Fırat Araboğlu, Dilek Vinchistir, Özgül Kılıçarslan, Yeşim Ağaoğlu, Özgür Demirci, Özgür Erkök Moroder, Ali Şimşek, Amira Arzık, Ali Cabbar, Björn Schirmeier, Başak Şenova, Ayşe Erek, Ezgi Yıldız,
Unrelated Matters: Fantazistan (2015) & Uniform Cut (2015)
by Hakan Topal
Ongoing Open Studio & Installation: June 23rd – July 9th
Exhibition Opens: July 7th, 2015
Reception: July 9th, 6-8 pm
3331 Arts Chiyoda, #205 — 2nd Floor Gallery
6-11-14 Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Unrelated Matters, an ongoing installation by New York-based artist Hakan Topal—an artist-in-residence at 3331 Arts Chiyoda—is composed of two distinct but interlocking projects that deal with everyday realities, speculation, perversity, subversion and representation in digital times.
The first part of the installation, Fantazistan is a playful attempt to engage with Islamist ideology and its phantasmagoric gender narratives and newly invented neoconservative norms. In this case, veiling (hijab), albeit a very contested issue, is extremely sexualized under this conservative order.
Uniform Cut is a project that is part of the ongoing research about coastal communities and global waters. The project revolves around the idea of speculating possible futures with respect to the aftermath of manmade or natural catastrophes. Uniform Cut invites us to rethink nature where it intersects with the built environment.
The installation brings together fictitious and documentary images, web pages, 3D renderings, video and text to create an amalgamated context.
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Tokyo Wonder Site Residency
May 4, 2017
Sinking Cities Exhibition at Purchase College Center for Community and Culture (PC4)
April 8, 2017
Urban Discharge: A Manifesto*
April 2, 2017
TALKS & PRESENTATIONS
February 2, 2017
MaHKUscript, Journal of Fine Art Research issue 2: “Critical Spatial Practice”
December 2, 2016
(c) 2017 - Hakan Topal