Pelin Tan

May 03-022, 2021 - Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 5-7 pm Beirut time

This Chapter will be held online

Registration Closed.

Guest Professors: Dima Srouji (architect/artist, Palestine), Rojda Tuğrul (artist, Diyarbakir), Hera Buyuktasciyan (artist, Istanbul), Prof. Zainab Bahrani (art historian, Columbia University, New York)


What can artistic experiences reveal about and how can they embody the voice of apocalyptic landscapes? How can the effects of surpassing disasters be dug out and memorized through artistic and architectural methodologies? The aim of this chapter is to create room for and bring forward collective critical thinking by focusing on memorizing lands, de/archiving artefacts, enacting non-human cycles, and engaging with poetics of exile. 

The chapter will take as its site of inquiry the zone of extraction along the Tigris river and its bordering land. It aims to offer workshops, collective readings, and lectures that focus on entanglements unfolding in the larger region of the so-called fertile crescent. The Tigris in itself probes questions that build towards broader problematics, inviting participants to engage with artefacts as traces of an apocalyptic era; lands as layers of violence; cycles as Earth’s navigation; and exile as voluntary collectivity. 

Kurdish author Mehmed Uzun, in his Dicle’nin Yakarisi/ Hawara Dicleye, verbalizes the Tigris (Dicle) river as a testimonial element that witnessed violent disasters and catastrophes among various ethno-religious communities. The narrator conjures a literal landscape which, in turn, becomes the conveyer of epochs of resistance, engrams of violence, and cycles of oblivion.

"I'm the Tigris, the thousands of years of scream,

today's crying.

I am the witness of time, cycle, epoch,

dream, illusion, hope;

the echo of the scream, the groaning of the cry;

Night, day, semester, month, year,

Sun, moon, star, all with me,

it all passed through my doors.

I am the hand of the doors of the cycles and epochs. 

The doors open one after another,

Voices creep out one by one.

my way from above to below

through all the beauty of the world,

through the black soil, scarlet soil, calcareous soil.

I am soil, the soil is my power.

Green, loam, beautiful...

Fertility, crop, granted by the earth,

All are me, all is Tigris, all from me."

p.259, Mehmet Uzun, Dicle’nin Yakarışı, SEL, Istanbul, 2020. (trans. From Turkish/Kurdish to English, Pelin Tan)

Participants will be asked to shed light on and summon their own experiences and work during the last week of this chapter in order to generate collective discussions around their respective inquiries. Participants with backgrounds in art, architecture, and civic engagement are welcome to join, particularly those interested in co-imagining artistic experiences and forms of solidarities with and of apocalyptic landscapes. 

The chapter is structured around conversations with practitioners whose projects are or have engaged with these questions at different levels: Dima Srouji (architect/artist, Palestine), Rojda Tuğrul (artist, Diyarbakir), Hera Buyuktasciyan (artist, Istanbul), Zainab Bahrani (art historian, New York).

“At that time there was a solitary tree, a solitary willow, a solitary tree, 70

growing on the bank of the holy Euphrates,

drinking water from the river Euphrates.

The might of the south wind tore it out at the roots and snapped

off its branches,

the water of the Euphrates washed over it.

I, the woman who respects the word of An,

I who respect the word of Enlil,

I picked up the tree in my hand and took it into Uruk,

took it into the pure garden of Inanna.

I, the woman, did not plant the tree with my hand, I planted it with

my foot, 

I, Inanna, did not water the tree with my hand, I watered it with

my foot.”

The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian (Penguin Classics). p.180-181

Bilgames and the Netherworld: 'ln those days, in those far-off days'

"The poem known to the ancients as 'In those days, in those far-off days' was also a favourite in the scribal schools of Old Babylonian Nippur and Ur. Unlike the other Sumerian tales of Bilgames, this composition begins with a mythological prologue: a long time ago, shortly after the gods had divided the universe between them, there was a huge storm."

Keywords: Embankment (Povinelli), Apocalyptic (Etel Adnan), Exile (Mehmed Uzun/Edward Said), Extraction (Macarena Barris - Gomez), Disaster/Catastrophe/Apocalypse (Sabu Kohso), Mnemosyne, (Aby Warburg)


1. Week (3-6 May):  Monday (Tan lecture: The concept of Extraction/Landscape/Field), Thursday (Tan lecture: The concept of Disaster/Catastrophe/Apocalypse), Saturday (Collective readings and discussing cases and mapping) Guest: Rojda Tuğrul 

2. Week (10-15 May): Monday (Lectures Guest) , Thursday (Tan lecture: Mnemosyne- Aby Warburg), Saturday (Tan lectures: Exiles) Guest: 14 May, Hera BuyuktasciyanGuest: Zainab Bahrani

3. Week (17-22 May): Monday (Lectures Guest), Thursday (Tan lecture), Saturday (Review, Collective readings and discussing cases and mapping) Guest: Dima Srouji 

Pelin Tan is a sociologist and art historian based in Mardin, Turkey. Tan’s research is on conflict territories, commoning practices and labor conditions. She is a professor of film at the Fine Arts Academy of Batman University, Turkey; and Senior Researcher at the Center for Arts, Design and Social Research, Boston, Massachusetts. She is also a researcher at the department of Architecture at Thessaly University, Volos, Greece (2021-2026). Tan is the 6th recipient of Keith Haring Art and Activism (2019). She worked as Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of Mardin Artuklu University; School of Design of Hong Kong Polytechnic; Architecture Faculty of University of Cyprus, Nicosia; visiting fellow at the Human Rights Program & CCS Bard College, New York (2020).

As a filmmaker, she has produced short films with artist Anton Vidokle on the future of art and society 2084 (2013-2015) and Gilgamesh, She Who Saw the Deep (2021 - Sharjah Short Film Grant recipient). Currently, she is co-leading the curatorial project Urgent Pedagogies in art and architecture, IASPIS (Stockholm) and Cosmological Gardens: Land, Cultivation and Care (CAD+SR, Spoleto, Italy), and curating the Didier Faustino exhibition, MAAT, Lisbon (2022). She has curated the ECC Matera 2019, I-DEA Archive of Archives project with Liam Gillick, Matera Foundation (2018 - 2019), and served as Associate Curator of the Adhocracy exhibition at Istanbul Design Biennial (2015). Exhibitions she participated in include: Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul (2020), Oslo Architecture Triennale, Norway (2016), Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2015), Bergen Assembly, Bergen Biennial, Norway (2013), Montréal Biennale, Canada (2014), Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Portugal (2013), Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2007), Chicago Architecture Biennial, USA (2019).

As an author Tan has contributed to Superhumanity (e-flux and Minnesota Press, 2017), Climates: Architecture and The Planetary Imaginary, GSAPP (Lars Müller Publishers, Columbia University, 2016),  Social (Re)Production of Architecture (Routledge, 2016), Urgent Architectural Theories, GSAPP Books (Columbia University, 2015), Doing Tolerance: Democracy, Citizenship and Social Protests, Barbara Budrich Publishing (Berlin, 2020), Radical Pedagogies (MIT Press, 2021), Autonomous Archiving (2016, Artıkişler Collective, Istanbul).