in situ

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

Category: Talks


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.

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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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.



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:

ARTISTS-IN-DIALOGUE: Confronting Disaster

Teach-in: What binds us together?

The University of the Commons
RIT (Research Institute on Turkey)

Teach-in: What binds us together?
Solidarity and New Institutional Horizons

Michael Hardt with Nidhi Srinivas & Hakan Topal

Thursday, April 9th, 2015. 5:50PM-7:30PM****University Center,  65 Fifth Ave. Basement floor, Rm. UL 102****The New School, New York

Public institutions, which play a critical role in democratic societies, have been under perpetual attack since the 1980s; the 2008 economic crisis further highlighted their precarity. Facing budget cuts, salary and hire freezes, public universities, research centers, museums, theaters and art spaces are deprived from public support and are forced to adapt new neoliberal models. In addition, modern solidarity networks such as political parties, unions and associations are unable to imagine new and steadfast remedies for their constituents, leaving them in the mercy of neoliberal administrations.

The Occupy and other movements have showed us that, in times of hardship, we are extremely agile in producing alternative solidarity networks on a temporary basis. However, when these movements lose momentum, networks quickly disappear or are subsumed under old organizational models.

In this “teach-in”, together with philosopher Michael Hardt, Nidhi Srinivas and Hakan Topal, we will speculate on various pressing questions regarding to imagining new institutions, cooperatives and collectives.

· How can we transform our marginalized synergy into sustainable assemblages, which can eventually provide salient alternatives to current institutional structures?

· What are the new forms of collaborative production? Can the so-called “sharing economy” and new technical models provide some answers?

· How can we imagine novel institutional organizations without repeating the mistakes of modern disciplinary institutions?

· What binds us together around a “common” goal? Love? Friendship? Passion? Respect? Work ethic? Urgency? Political will? Ideology? Hope for a better future? ___ ?

· And, what separates us?

Suggested Readings:

Hardt, Michael. The Procedures of Love. 2012

Deleuze, Gilles. Lecture transcripts: Spinoza’s Concept of Affect.


Michael Hardt is the chair of the Literature Program at Duke University. His recent writings deal primarily with the political, legal, economic, and social aspects of globalization. In his books with Antonio Negri (Declaration, and the Empire Trilogy including Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth) he has analyzed the functioning of the current global power structure as well as the possible political and economic alternatives to that structure based on new institutions of shared, common wealth.

Nidhi Srinivas is Associate Professor of Non-profit Management at The New School in New York City. His research interests center on critical theory, civil society and post-colonial management knowledge. Srinivas serves on the advisory board of Research Institute on Turkey.

**Hakan Topal **is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He is Assistant Professor of New Media and Art+Design at Purchase College and is one of the founding members of Research Institute on Turkey, where he now serves on the advisory board.

© Hakan Topal, 2018