Hakan Topal is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He is an Assistant Professor of New Media and Art + Design at Purchase College, SUNY and a graduate faculty in the School of Visual Arts’ Fine Arts Department. Trained as a civil engineer (B.S.), he continued his studies in gender and women’s studies (M.S.) and sociology (M.A.). He received a Ph.D. in sociology from the New School for Social Research with a concentration in urban sociology and sociology of arts. His dissertation was titled Negotiating Urban Space: Contemporary Art Biennials, The Case of New Orleans.
He was the co-founder of international art collective, xurban_collective (2000-12) and exhibited his collective and individual art works and research projects extensively, in institutions such as the 8th and 9th Istanbul Biennials; apexart, New York; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Vienna; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; MoMA PS1; Platform, Istanbul and the 9th Gwangju Biennial. Topal represented Turkey in various international exhibitions including the 49th Venice Biennial Turkish Pavilion. His texts and projects have been featured in various international journals, books and catalogs. In 2010, he was the guest editor of ArteEast Quarterly Journal’s Silence issue, and directed a documentary film on 18th-century Austro-Bavarian sculptor, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, commissioned by the Neue Galerie, New York. He is the co-editer and publisher of the book, The Sea-Image: Visual Manifestations of Port Cities and Global Waters distributed by D.A.P. This book is the outcome of visual research and a symposium that brought together an international group of artists, scholars and writers as part of the Istanbul European Capital of Culture 2010. His recent project about the collateral damage and condolence payments in globalized wars with respect to possibility of justice. This project was generously supported by the Prince Claus Fund. He is currently working on a new cooperative research institution on Turkey.
Professionally, he worked as a researcher at Audio Visual Research Center, Middle East Technical University, Ankara where he taught media classes and organized seminars together with international scholars and filmmakers loosely organized under the Korotonomedya group. From 2001-2008, he worked at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York as New Media Projects Manager. He was responsible for the museum’s Media Lounge, the only dedicated museum space exhibiting new media art projects at the time. He worked on a wide range of technical, conceptual and design projects, produced art works and developed websites. During this time his projects received substantial grants from institutions such as The Getty Foundation and Third Millenium Foundation. The New Museum archive website, which he initiated, was recently launched online at: http://archive.newmuseum.org. In 2008, Topal started his own research and design firm Newgray LLC. Since then, he has consulted various international organizations including Prospect New Orleans, International Center of Photography, ArteEast, Side Trip Media, Interpersonal Frequency and many more.