Initiative & Institution Symposium

Friday, 07.03.08, 13.00

‘take place’
trigger talks and discussion:
can altay
townley & bradby
chair: andreas lang

Listen to mp3 here: Initiative & Institution – Symposium – Take Place – 07.03.08


from “unpredictable reconfiguration” to “setting a setting”

This talk will focus on Can Altay’s research and practice in art and architecture. Altay will present his work through observations on urban phenomena, such as the nocturnal practices of youths in Ankara’s street gatherings called mini-bars, and the operations of unofficial garbage collectors, known as papermen, common to many big cities in Turkey. In these activities he identifies an unpredictable reconfiguration of spaces and systems. Altay will present his installation works produced as spatial constructs, which both document and reflect on the research issues. The talk will outline Altay’s ideas on “setting a setting”; as constructing open structures that aim to produce social and spatial situations through events and exchange, looking at a series of recent projects that he has developed.

Can Altay

Born in Ankara, Turkey. Altay received his PhD in Art, Design, and Architecture from Bilkent University in 2004. He has a post-graduate degree in Critical Studies from Malmö Art Academy and Lund University, Sweden, and a background in Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, with an M.F.A. and a B.F.A. from Bilkent University. Although Altay continues to teach and move in architectural circles, he is better known as an artist. His installations of videos, mappings, textbooks and photographs incorporate different forms of research on human interaction in urban environments. To create these dense works Altay studies symptoms of ‘mis-use’, or improvised spatial architectures in the city, as well as hidden structures of support, unauthorised systems of organisation and models of co-habitation. He has had solo exhibitions in Sala Rekalde, Spain (2006) and Spike Island, U.K. (2007). His work has been included in exhibitions such as the Istanbul Biennial (2003), Havana Biennial (2003), Busan Biennial (2006); and in museums and galleries such as the Walker Art Center (USA), VanAbbe Museum (Netherlands), ZKM (Germany), P.S.1 MoMA (USA), and Platform Garanti (Turkey). His work has been featured in periodicals such as contemporary, Frieze, Spike and in books including the [un]common place (ed.Pietromarchi). Besides his installation based work he is currently working on his ongoing publication project “Ahali: a journal for setting a setting”, collecting texts from various authors as well as continuing to write on art, architecture and urbanity.


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