in situ

Art, Politics and Other Things in Life — Updates by Hakan Topal

Author: Hakan Topal (Page 1 of 11)


Ali Mahmut Demirel’in 16 Mart–15 Temmuz 2018 tarihleri arasında Arter’de yer alan “Ada” başlıklı sergisi kapsamında, sanatçının pratiğinin şekillenmesinde rol oynayan akademik ve kültürel ortama odaklanan iki buluşma gerçekleşecek. Bu buluşmalar, 1990’larda Ankara’da ortaya çıkan ve sonraki kuşaklar üzerindeki etkisi devam eden bilgi üretimini, farklı perspektiflerden tartışmaya açmayı amaçlıyor.

Bu panelde Ali Mahmut Demirel, erken dönem işleri ve içinde oluştukları bağlam üzerine konuşacak. Hakan Topal ise, 1993 yılında Ortadoğu Teknik Üniversitesi’nde (ODTÜ) kurulan Görsel İşitsel Sistemler Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi’nde (GİSAM) ders veren film kurgu ustası Thomas Balkenhol’un emekliye ayrılması onuruna bir sunum yapacak. GİSAM’ın Türkiye’de medya sanatları için önemi, 1990’lar sonu ODTÜ’de biçimlenen medya dayanışma pratikleri ve sanatsal üretim, “kurum ve sevgi” kavramsal ilişkisi çerçevesinde değerlendirilecek.

Ali Mahmut Demirel

1972’de Türkiye’de doğan Ali Mahmut Demirel, nükleer enerji mühendisliği ve mimarlık okudu. Demirel’in üretimi müzik videoları, sahne tasarımı, canlı performanslar ve deneysel videolardan oluşuyor. Sanatçının yalın bir dille 1993’ten beri sürdürdüğü deneysel video pratiği çoğunlukla bilimsel ve mimari kavramlardan yola çıkan yapısal kompozisyonlara dayanıyor.

Hakan Topal

İnşaat Mühendisliği, Toplumsal Cinsiyet ve Kadın Çalışmaları okudu. Kent ve sanat sosyolojisi üzerine yaptığı doktorasını New School for Social Research’te tamamladı. Uluslararası sanat kolektifi xurban_collective (2000–2012) girişiminin kurucu üyelerindendir. Kolektif ve bireysel projeleri 9. İstanbul Bienali; TBA21, Viyana; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; MoMA PS1, New York; Platform, İstanbul ve 9. Gwangju Bienali gibi birçok uluslararası platformda sergilendi. 49. Venedik Bienali Türkiye Pavyonu da dahil olmak üzere çeşitli uluslararası sergilerde Türkiye’yi temsil etti. Topal, hâlen New York’ta yaşamakta ve SUNY Purchase College’da New Media ve Art + Design Bölümü’nde çalışmalarını sürdürmektedir.

Contribution to Serhh Journal (In Turkish)

Serhh is one of the best well-edited cultural journals in Turkey. It is run by an amazing team of young and engaged intellectuals, including Eren Barış, Alper Göbel, Emre Koyuncu. For its latest issue, I have a small contribution about the “archeology of disasters”.

Art in revolution – The challenges of art in situations of political repression

January 18.2018 – Kunsthal Extra City – Antwerp

Kunsthal Extra City, Eikelstraat 25-31, 2600 Berchem
10:00AM – 17:00PM


Initiator: Pascal Gielen

In times of war and repression, artists and intellectuals often become the first victims of political measures. In Syria, Turkey, Russia and China, for example, many of them have been arrested, prosecuted or forced to remain silent. But artists are also very good at developing strategies and tactics to counteract, develop protests and safeguard public voices. Taking Syria and Turkey as a starting point, this seminar will analyse the more general dialogues between art and politics in dramatic human and political conflict conditions. How does authoritarianism actually work and how do artists and intellectuals produce their works in such a context? Can art become a spokesperson for all in such dramatic situations? How do artists become civil actors and what kind of risks do they take? How do they operate in larger frameworks of resistance and what are the limits of such resistance in arts and writings? What’s the value, but also the danger and the price, of such activities?

Contributions by:

  • Sana Yazigi
  • Sarah Vanhee
  • Roschanack Shaery-Yazdi
  • Hakan Topal
  • Gurur Ertem
  • Pascal Gielen
  • Liselotte Sels

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The Art of Civil Action: Political Space and Cultural Dissent

How arts and culture can offer the building blocks for a strong civil domain Social scientists, cultural theorists, activists and artists discuss different artistic platforms, activist groups and new forms of citizen initiatives

Contributors: Andrew Barnett, Llorenç Bonet, llya Budraitskis, Giuliana Ciancio, Philipp Dietachmair, Milena Dragićević Šešić, Pascal Gielen, Max Haiven, Stefan Kaegi, Ivan Krastev, Thijs Lijster, Tomislav Medak, Borka Pavićević, Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Igor Stokfiszewski, Hakan Topal
Philipp Dietachmair & Pascal Gielen

Civil society around the world increasingly deals with global questions and starts to assume transnational forms of organization. The arts can play a key role in addressing public and political problems, with their ability to project alternative realities and communicate ideas. Looking at different artistic platforms, activist groups and new forms of citizen initiatives, this book asks how cultural and art initiatives can question and strengthen the civil domain; how their approaches put the ‘art’ of civil action into practice? Which strategies and forms of organization can such initiatives use in order to sustain their activities and increase their local influence and global significance? Social scientists, cultural theorists, activists and artists explore how arts and culture can offer the building blocks for a locally rooted civil society in a globally connected context.

Series: Antennae/Arts in Society

Dark Ocean at Law Warschaw Gallery, November 10 – December 17, 2017

In an Information Age, when knowledge is networked and ubiquitous, how are truths discerned and histories recorded? In an era of ‘alternative facts,’ fast-circulating news, and “fake news,” the ability to understand our world — what constitutes real information to form knowledge and, ultimately, truths — seems daunting.

Rather than extract truths or call out fabrications, this exhibition presents multiple paradigms for information-making: experience and memory, the interview, the courtroom, the library, news media, broadcast, and social media. Together these works describe conditions for the speed and rhetoric of news and social media; our understanding of current events and writing truthful histories; and the manipulation of information, with attention to global conflict, the justice system, and international refugee and humanitarian crises.

Syed Hosain explores unfixed histories, traditions, and constructions, of Middle-East geography and his own Muslim identity through painting. Process and material driven, Hosain builds up rich surfaces on canvas creating a tension between recognition and obliteration. He also works into found surfaces, like old encyclopedias and history books, reworking images with additive and subtractive layers of paint, obscuring factual information and imagery to highlight multiple reading and meaning of text and image. Syed Hosain was born in Pakistan and lives and works in South Minneapolis.

Since moving from Quebec to New York in 1983, Perry Bard‘s work is fueled by observations of her immediate environment and their interpretations in a global context. The space between fact and fiction, the role of technology, the control of media, its proliferation in public space play out in installations and videos that she has presented internationally. Together with collaborator Richard Sullivan, Bard investigates the alliance of two siblings on either side of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the absurdity and theater of Twitter.

Ilona Gaynor is a designer and filmmaker whose work draws upon the use of image, rhetoric and cinematic tropes, to construct complexly precise plots, schemes, and narrative texts. Using design as a vehicle, the work aims to manipulate, fantasize and drive forward the invisible, draconian reaches of political, economic, and technological progress and their topologies. The various outcomes presented, often take form as dense hypothetical plot constructions and narrative schematics, that maneuver between artifact, artifice, and representation.

For Essma Imady, being Syrian in today’s climate necessitates a politicized experience. She says, “Political art, at its best, asks questions rather than provides answers, it whispers rather then screams.” Imady asserts personal experiences in the face of the collective monolithic experiences of war and religion, using film, environments, and objects, to balance documentation of real, political trauma and layered narratives between her images and objects. Imady currently lives and works in the Twin Cities.

Hakan Topal’s interdisciplinary approach incorporates research that blurs the boundaries between art, technology, and social sciences, in an effort to cross-examine the historical and contemporary particularities of geopolitical contexts. By multiple informative layers subjects or situations, Topal brings visibility to their inherent incongruities and complexities.

Curated by Jehra Patrick

Public Programs

Opening Reception
November 10, 7 – 10 pm
An evening to commemorate the exhibition and meet the artists.
Public Discussion November 10, 8 pm
Artists Hakan Topal and Perry Bard discuss the media’s impact on public understanding.

Sinking Cities Exhibition at Purchase College Center for Community and Culture (PC4)

By Hakan Topal, 2015-17

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

Drift Events:
Solvents: Saturday, April 15, 4-7:30pm
Edges: Saturday, April 22, 1-4pm

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Urban Discharge: A Manifesto*

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.

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Ali Taptik, Aslihan Demirtas, Evren Uzer, & Hakan Topal
Tuesday, February 6th, 1-3PM
The Orozco Room
Alvin Johnson / JM Kaplan Hall #A712
66 West 12th St, New York

Pamela Allara, Wafaa Bilal, Ricardo Dominquez, Activist, Susan Platt, Hakan Topal, & Jenny Marketou (Chair)
February 16th, 3:30–5:00PM
Gibson Suite, 2nd Floor (Media Lounge)
CAA Conference, Hilton Midtown, New York

Joanna Lehan, Hakan Topal
February 21st, Tuesday, 6:30pm The James Gallery,
CUNY Graduate Center 365 Fifth Avenue, First Floor,
New York

Guven Incilioglu & Hakan Topal
March 14th, Tuesday, 6:30PM
Istanbul Modern Cinema


Istanbul Modern
On view January 28 to June 4, 2017
I participated this exhibition with two interconnected past projects “Siegecraft (2004)” and “Sea of Marble (2010)”. For more information:

The Image and Social Change
ICP Museum, New York
On view from January 27, 2017 to May 07, 2017
I participated this exhibition with a commissioned work titled “Untitled (Ocean), 2017”. For more information:

MaHKUscript, Journal of Fine Art Research issue 2: “Critical Spatial Practice”

My contribution to MaHKUscript, Journal of Fine Art Research issue 2: “Critical Spatial Practice”:

Artistic Responses to Natural Disasters: The Case of New Orleans

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?

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Some thoughts on Trump Presidency + What Should We Do Next?

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.

Health Care:
– 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.

So, What Should We Do Next?

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 )

in Solidarity.

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© Hakan Topal, 2018