Creative Industries: Neoliberalism As Mass Deception

July 30th, 2011

A critical review of creative industries programs and neoliberal cultural policies by Aras Ozgun, published in Art And Contestation In The New Century, ed. by Marc J. Léger, Intellect Books, London, 2011

click for the pdf version of the article

Experimental Ethnography Seminar at APASS, Brussels

January 15th, 2011

A five day seminar on “Experimental Practices in Ethnographic Film and Video” by Aras Ozgun and Anette Baldauf. Organized by APASS (Advanced Performance and Scenography Studies) at Rits Film School in Brussels, Belgium, between January 24-28, 2011.


Common Word: A Response to Michael Hardt & Gigi Rogero

December 29th, 2010

A response by Aras Ozgun to Michael Hardt and Gigi Rogero’s presentations at the Alternative Social Imaginaries Symposium held at Duke University in March 2009. Published in Rethinking Marxism, 22/3, September 2010.

THE META-DEVICE – 25/11/2010 – Istanbul

November 24th, 2010

Ayreen Anastas and Réne Gabri are visiting Istanbul to participate in the Art and Desire Seminars. While they are in Istanbul, in addition to their workshop, they decided to organize a separate and independent event titled THE META DEVICE as a part of their ongoing traveling series public conversations:


Please scroll down for the invitation text.

The event will take place November 25, Thursday, at 18:30, on the second floor of Cezayir Building in Galatasaray. Conversation will be held in Turkish.

Cezayir Restaurant
Hayriye Caddesi 12, Galatasaray, Beyoglu

For more information: + 533 341 1744 (Özge Çelikaslan)

The Meta-Device
Over the last two decades the number of large scale international art exhibitions have increased four-fold. With this steady proliferation, the form itself has attracted critical interest as well as scrutiny. Short of opening up an academic department devoted to such inquiries in art schools or schools of economics, there is a growing interest in understanding how these large scale exhibitions connect to, disturb, channel, soften or crystallize conflicts within various social, political, and economic processes.

What is the function of large scale art events? What (if anything) can be done with them? Can a reflection on these events and exhibitions serve as the doorway for entering and exploring some of the double binds and impasses of artistic production today? Can such a discussion open up a space for considering art’s relation to broader economic, ecological, social, and political challenges?

We would like to propose to use the city of Istanbul, with its multiplicity of historical and contemporary tensions, and two overlapping colloquia, one on ‘Art and Desire’ and the second ‘Remembering Istanbul: A Conference on the history of the Istanbul Biennial,’ as the context for such a conversation.

This event will be an effort at a more distributed and horizontal public conversation. Although efforts will be made to invite specific individuals, there will be no keynote speakers.

Conversation will be held in Turkish and English.

Art & Desire Seminars – November 2010 Session

November 24th, 2010

The November session of ”Art and Desire Seminars”, which has been organized as a part of Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture program by Norgunk Publishers, Korotonomedya, KozaVisual and Pyromedia collectives, will take place this week, between November 22-26, and with satellite lectures on December 3rd and December 21st, at French Cultural Institute and Sanat Limanı venues. You can find a detailed program at the seminars’ website:


Our idea with this seminar series is to facilitate an exchange between contemporary creative practices and critical theories, with a particular emphasis on the interrogation of political and economic conditions surrounding cultural production today. The coming session of the seminars will offer highly interesting lectures, performances, presentations, and exhibitions from public intellectuals and independent artists in this context.

Our guests in the November seminars include two of the most prominent contemporary French critical theorists working in film, video and visual arts; Raymond Bellour and Georges Didi-Huberman. Bellour will present a lecture titled “Cinema and Installations” on November 23rd at 6:00pm at the French Cultural Institute, and Didi-Huberman will present his lecture, “Dancing the Desire and the Conflict” on December 21st at 6:00pm at the same venue.

One of our most exciting guests is Jim Fleming, a founding member of the Autonomedia Publishers collective in New York. Since the early 1980′s, Autonomedia Publishers has been an icon of global radical culture, with more than 300 books including very early translations of post-structuralist radical French theorists and Italian Autonomist Marxist theorists –such as Deleuze, Guattari, Baudrilliard, Virilio and Negri –as well as a wide range of publications from literature and poetry to urbanism, comics and science-fiction anthologies. Jim will give a lecture on “Autonomous Media: Theory and Practice” at Sanat Limanı on Friday, November 26 at 3:00pm.

We designed these seminars with the aim of opening up debate on alternative forms of cultural production and circulation. We are also excited to have the editors and writers from Express –the longest running and probably the most influential Turkish independent monthly politics and culture magazine in Turkish– with us to give a talk in this context. The Express crew will meet their readers at Sanat Limanı on Friday November 26, at 1:00 pm. Express’s sister culture and arts publication, Bir+Bir will also host a roundtable discussion with the presenters following Simon Reynolds and Halil Turhanlı’s presentations on Friday, December 3rd at 4:30 pm at Sanat Limanı.

Simon Reynolds, in our view, is one of the most interesting contemporary music and pop culture critics writing today. Besides his seminal books on post-punk era music culture (such as “Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84″, “Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (a/k/a Generation Ecstasy)”, and “The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock’n'Roll”), he has written frequently for Melody Maker and Wire magazines. Under the title “The Desire Called Underground,” Simon will discuss the internal dynamics and conflicts of alternative modes of music production and distribution on Friday December 3rd at 3:00 pm at Sanat Limanı. Halil Turhanlı is a notable cultural critic writing in Turkish; his writings on music, art and underground cinema have appeared in numerous periodicals, and he has published three books on the politics of music (“Music and Opposition”, “Sounds of Utopia”, and “Anarchic Harmony”). Halil’s presentation, titled “Strong Poetry called Music,” will take place at 1:00 pm on the same day, and will evaluate Richard Rorty’s concepts of “strong poetry” and “strong poets” with regards to musical works and the radical imagination they inspire.

Our other guests will include Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, who work with the New York-based 16 Beaver artists’ collective. Ayreen and Rene will present their new video work “Some People Have the Watch, Others Have the Time,” and talk about their artistic practice. “Some People Have the Watch, Others Have the Time” is based on fragments of a conversation with Albert Aghazarian videotaped in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, and it mines some of the critical questions of Palestine, while also offering a compelling interpretation of a world unable to affirm its own syncretic history. Ayreen and Rene’s presentation will take place at the French Cultural Institute on Wednesday, November 24th at 1:00pm. After them, at 3:30 pm, Berlin-based artist Sönke Hallmann will make a presentation titled “Language and Movement,” about his body of work,”Department of Reading”, in which he engages with reading and writing in performative settings, and draws attention to the adjacent space of reading, which cannot separated from the body of text itself. Alber Nahum, whose translation of “Letters to Bleyenberg” has been published by Norgunk Publishers in Istanbul, will present a lecture titled “Spinoza and Death” on Tuesday, November 23rd at 4:30 pm at the French Cultural Institute.

We are also proud to have two extraordinary live performances in our November program. The first one is an acoustic concert from Siya Siyabend at Sanat Limanı on Wednesday November 24th at 6:00 pm. Siya Siyabend gained a cultish status in the alternative scene of Istanbul since 1996 with their experimental performances that combine improvised storytelling and poetry with improvised music. Their performance will be in memory of Ulus Baker, whose work initially inspired us to create this seminar series. The other performance in our November session is a theater event from Tiyatrolokomotif, an Ankara-based experimental theater collective led by Bulent Acar. “Quad” is the first installation of Tiyatrolokomotif’s ongoing project for staging Samuel Beckett’s short plays, and it was specially conceived to be performed at our seminars at Sanat Limanı on Friday, November 26th, at 5:30 pm.

Art & Desire Seminars, 17-20 June 2010, Istanbul

June 9th, 2010

Art & Desire Seminars, 17-20 June 2010, Istanbul

In organizing this seminar series on Art and Desire, our aim is to conduct an exchange between contemporary creative practices and contemporary critical theories.  We found it necessary to produce this encounter because we wanted to be able to critically reflect upon Istanbul’s specific conditions as it is becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2010. In its process of becoming a “global city”, Istanbul has been the stage of rapid urban transformation in the past two decades. Not surprisingly, the growth and concentration of artistic and creative practices in the city became one of the markers of such transformation, along the regional scale concentration of finance capital, media industries, and service economy. The selection of Istanbul as the European Capital of Culture of 2010 (while Turkey’s membership to EU remains to be a contested and complicated issue) crystalizes the meaning of such transformations. The driving force behind such urban transformations has been the global expansion of the capital; what happens in Istanbul also takes place in other global border posts, and what takes place is not simply the development of existing social conditions beyond certain thresholds but a neoliberal transgression that is directed towards the consolidation of a new social order, new social subjectivities, and  new representation regimes. Istanbul’s rapidly developing artistic and culture scene has to be evaluated in this critical context.

As a part of the Istanbul 2010 program, by organizing this seminar series, we aim to provide a critical contribution –perhaps, even an intervention, to what we see as the expansion of global capital and its accompanying neoliberal governmentality beyond geographical borders, into the creative practices and social imaginaries. In this context, with Art and Desire Seminars, we aim to facilitate encounters between contemporary creative practices and contemporary critical theory, between what we practice and what we think, between here and there, now and then, from each to each.

The seminar series is inspired by Ulus Baker’s similar seminars conducted in Middle East Technical University’s (METU) Media Research Center (GISAM) in 1998 with the same title. Baker’s work traced the relations and passages between the regimes of technological representation and modern social subjectivities, examined contemporary social dynamics and visual representation techniques, and through such interrogations, provided valuable leads for creative minds to explore in aesthetic forms. By departing from Baker’s work, we seek to facilitate critical discussions on four interrelated lines of inquiry:

Forms of Affect: A framework for evaluating the contemporary theoretical explorations regarding social subjectivities, affective regimes, and creative practices.

Art and Biopolitics: A framework for the discussion of artistic and cultural production vis-a-vis contemporary modes of governmentality.

Art and Autonomy: A framework for exploring creative production practices and circulation channels that take place outside of the mainstream artistic and cultural production.

Regimes of Image: A framework for the discussion of new, post-photographic and post-cinematic representation regimes that develop under the ontological conditions of digital media technologies.

Art and Desire Seminars seek to explore these themes and problematics through a series of lectures, performances, workshops, presentations, screenings and shows. These events will bring together cross-disciplinary participants who produce theoretical and practical works in philosophy, social sciences and the arts. Each seminar session will be a 4 days event and two sessions will be held on 17th – 20th of June, and 18th – 21st of November of 2010. Our desire in these seminars is to establish a truly communicative environment by encouraging in depth exposition of ideas and works and lengthy discussions. Therefore, we will encourage each presenter to make a “lecture-like” (40-45 mins. long) presentation of her/his work. The works presented at the seminars will be published as an edition in December 2010.

Art and Desire Seminars aim to be a platform for the discussion of contemporary artistic and cultural practices in a social and political context, and in this respect, will continue as an annual event independently and collectively organized by artists, art collectives, publishers and scholars in the following years.

You can find the detailed program of the June 2010 session of seminar series hereand contact us for more information on Art and Desire Seminars.

WINDOWS – Video Exhibition at Rooftop Studios, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo

March 23rd, 2010

A collaborative Video Exhibition
March 24th – April 1st, 7 – 10 pm
Rooftop Studios
7 Noubar Street, Mounira, Cairo

Windows video exhibition that is the outcome of Aras Ozgun’s 3 weeks workshop at American University in Cairo and Townhouse Gallery which involved 15 students, film makers, artists, academics with or without prior experience in video art. The exhibition was developed during the span of Aras’s residency with AUC’s Performance and Visual Arts Department.

Artists contributing to the exhibition are; Ahmed El Gendy, Amira Hanafi, Amran Frey, Angela Harutyunyan, Aras Ozgun, Belle Gironda, Corey Sattler, Hani Sami Lotfi Naguib, Heba Amin
Lara J. Worcester, Mariam Mekiwi, Maya Asfour, Mohammed Alaa, Mohammed El-Assyouti, Nagham Osman, Nork Zakarian, and Yasmin Shash.

The project has provided an open framework (literally, “window frames”) which combines and cultivates different experimental narratives, aesthetic techniques and method that are possible in video. It encourages the audience to relate to the physicality of windows both as (un)demarcators of private and public spheres as well as subjective and social borders or unbound situations through which the subject relates to the surrounding world.

The window is understood as a liminal space, as a metaphor, as a form of experience, as a social function and as a poetic device. Each video contains an “event” that relates to the situation by utilizing narrative or non-narrative form/technique that works with windows: An off-screen voice or
dialogue conveying a story, or audible/visible clues of something that takes place in the room behind the camera –or at the outside, or a small act in front or outside of the window, or just an interval of time.

Each video itself is a space that opens to another one, each video contains an “event” that takes place in this opening –a view or a story that relates to a slice of time. None of the videos directly connect to the others: together they form a heterotopic space, a multiplicity of places, identities and narratives –a room with many views. While each contributors’ work remains an autonomous piece, at it nonetheless resonates with the others and forms a collective and participatory body of work at the same time.

Politics of Electronic Image – Jean-Luc Godard Screening

March 10th, 2010

Poster for Politics of Electronic Image - Jean-Luc Godard Screening

WINDOWS – A Collaborative Video Exhibition

March 5th, 2010


by Aras Ozgun
Sharjah Art Gallery and Townhouse Art Gallery, March 6-March 23, 2010
The American University in Cairo 
Performance and Visual Arts Department

Flyer for Windows project by Aras Ozgun

IDEA | between private and public

The main idea of this project is to provide an open framework (literally, “frames”) that can combine and cultivate many different experimental narratives, aesthetic techniques and approaches that are possible in video. Each frame/video is open to be called with a performance as well as a documentary, with sound, acts, or a still-life or a landscape image. Each artists contribution can reflect a personal statement/concern relating to a limit situation between private and public. While each contributors work remains as an autonomous piece/expression, it resonates with the others at the same time, and forms a collective, participatory body of work.

IMAGE | between still-life and landscape

The exhibition, which will be developed collaboratively with the workshop participants, will consist of multiple TV monitors. Each TV monitor displays a single image; a window fully framed from inside the room (or whatever interior space it belongs to), and the outside as seen through it. Each window is different from the others. 

Each window is a liminal image between a still-life and a landscape. While showing a window framed from interior, each video partially reveals the identity of that particular interior space (objects and details around the window, curtains, walls, window frames etc.), and at the same time, presents a limited view of the outside (a piece of landscape, a street view, a brick wall, open sky, another window?), thus constructs a limit and a passage between inside/outside, interiority/exteriority, private/public. Each video contains an “event” that relates to this limit situation by utilizing any possible narrative form/technique that could be presented in this setting. An off-screen voice or dialogue conveying a story, or audible/visible clues of something that takes place in the room behind the camera –or at the outside, or a small act in front of the window or at the outside, or just an interval of time. Each video itself is a space that opens to another one, each video contains an “event” that takes place in this opening –a view or a story that relates to a slice of time. None of the videos directly connect to any other; all together they form a heterotopic space, a multiplicity of places, identities and narratives –a room with many views.


Session 1 – Introductory session (lecture, references, sources and materials)
March 6, Saturday, Townhouse Gallery

Session 2 –  Development of ideas and critique
March 9, Tuesday, Sharjah Art Gallery

Session 3 – Videography and field work
March 13, Saturday, Townhouse Gallery

Session 4 – Post-production
March 16, Tuesday, AUC PVA computer lab

Session 5 -Exposition making at Sharjah At Gallery
March 23, Tuesday

March 25 – Exhibition at Sharjah Art Gallery

Public Lecture: KAIROS – On The Temporality of Electronic Image

March 1st, 2010

I will be giving a public lecture at Performance and Visual Arts Department of The American University in Cairo on March 4th, at 1:00 pm. I will be staying in Cairo until the end of March as a visiting artist at AUC and conduct a workshop and a collaborative video exhibition.

Poster for the public lecture