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

Category: Publication

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”.

https://serhhdergi.com

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
Editors:
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

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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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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Speculation Now

I contributed to the book “Speculation, Now: Essays and Artwork” with a glossary entry titled “Intentional Failure


What needs to change in our understanding of reality for reality to change? In the face of radical uncertainty, an awareness that things could be otherwise is beginning to organize common frameworks for action and debate. Interdisciplinary in design and concept, Speculation, Now illuminates unexpected convergences between images, concepts, and language. Artwork is interspersed among essays that approach speculation and progressive change from surprising perspectives. A radical cartographer asks whether “the speculative” can be represented on a map. An ethnographer investigates religious possession in Islam to contemplate states between the divine and the seemingly human. A financial technologist queries understandings of speculation in financial markets. A multimedia artist and activist considers the relation between social change and assumptions about the conditions to be changed, and an architect posits purposeful neglect as political strategy. The book includes an extensive glossary with more than twenty short entries in which scholars contemplate such speculation-related notions as insurance, hallucination, prophecy, the paradox of beginnings, and states of half-knowledge. The book’s artful, nonlinear design mirrors and reinforces the notion of contingency that animates it. By embracing speculation substantively, stylistically, seriously, and playfully, Speculation, Now reveals its subversive and critical potential.

Speculation, Now: Essays and Artwork
Edited by Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao,
with Prem Krishnamurthy and Carin Kuoni
With an Afterword by Arjun Appadurai

Artists and Essayists
Arjun Appadurai, William Darity Jr., Filip De Boeck, Boris Groys,Hans Haacke, Darrick Hamilton, Laura Kurgan, Lin + Lam, Gary Lincoff, Lize Mogel, Christina Moon, Stefania Pandolfo, Satya Pemmaraju, Mary Poovey, Walid Raad, Sherene Schostak, Robert Sember, Srdjan Jovanović Weiss

Advanced Praise for Speculation, Now
Speculation, Now holds a critical mirror up to the speculative practices that pervade contemporary life only to come away with a generative theory supported by a lexicon. In the book’s course, speculative practices emerge not as edges but as engines of artistic, scholarly, and economic creation, with the lexicon framing core concepts for a speculative renewal: from Credit and Risk to Shadow Worlds and Witchcraft. The voices are many and the disciplinary perspectives kaleidoscopic. But the overall effect is brilliantly choral. Under ever increasing pressure from degrees of complexity and interconnectivity so great that commonplace ideas of sequence and causality routinely fail, speculation is reborn. It casts aside its prior dreams of mastery in the name of strategies of productive drift and play.”
–Jeffrey Schnapp, Harvard University

“The line between the present and the near future has all but collapsed, and Speculation, Now revels in this space, envisioning a world on the cusp. This wildly diverse book makes the case for a broader definition of applied speculation, not one limited to calculated risk or dreamy conjuring(though it represents both those extremes), but a process that represents an engaged way of understanding the present: through the active desire to change it.”
–Emmet Byrne, Walker Art Center

Glossary Contributors
Benjamin Aranda, Judith Barry, Katherine Carl, Celine Condorelli,Holland Cotter, Özge Ersoy, Reem Fadda, Luke Fowler, Peter Geschiere, Kenan Halabi, Orit Halpern, Graham Harman, Larissa Harris, Victoria Hattam, Jamer Hunt, Angie Keefer & Lucy Skaer,Joachim Koester, Elka Krajewska, Nicolas Langlitz, Marysia Lewandowska, Josiah McElheny, Brian McGrath, Metahaven, Sarah Oppenheimer, Trevor Paglen, Dushko Petrovich, David Reinfurt,Amie Siegel, smudge studios, Beth Stryker, Iddo Tavory, Chen Tamir, Elizabeth Thomas, Hakan Topal, Byron Tucker, Nader Vossoughian, Aleksandra Wagner, McKenzie Wark

Published by Duke University Press and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School

Available in bookstores, at online retailers, and directly through Duke University Press at www.dukeupress.edu

© Hakan Topal, 2018