Blind Dates Project

Artists

Blind Dates: Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire

Collaborators include: Silva Ajemian and Aslihan Demirtaş / Karen Andreassian with Citizen Walker Sergey / Hrayr Anmahouni Eulmessekian with Professor Anahid Kassabian / Michael Blum and Damir Nikšić / Jean Marie Casbarian with Professor Nazan Maksudyan / Özge Ersoy with Taline Toutounjian / Linda Ganjian and Elif Uras / Aram Jibilian with Aaron Mattocks as Arshile Gorky’s ghost / Nina Katchadourian and Ahmet Öğüt / Karine Matsakian and Sona Abgarian / Stefanos Tsivopoulos with dancers Ursula Eagly, Carlos Fittante & Christopher Williams / Jalal Toufic with Professor Selim Kuru as translator, and Xurban Collective

Biographies of Match-Made Artists and Practitioners

Silva Ajemian grew up in Lebanon and moved to New York City in 1996.  She holds the degrees of Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies from Dalhousie University, Canada.  She has been practicing architecture since 1996, and has worked with, among others, Michael Sorkin and Vito Acconci. With her  partner, Jorge Prado, she founded in 2003 todo design, a multidisciplinary practice encompassing urban, architecture, furniture and graphic design.  The firm has been recognized internationally with awards and by many publications.  The partners have participated in exhibitions, design conferences and trade fairs in Beirut, Palermo, Tokyo and New York. Silva taught architectural design at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute in Mumbai, and at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  Currently, she is an adjunct professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture, and a visiting critic at Pratt Institute, New York Institute of Technology and Cornell University.

www.tododesign.com

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Aslihan Demirtas is the principal of Aslihan Demirtas Design and Research Studio in New York.  Her practice includes national and international projects that encompass ground-up buildings, landscape projects, exhibition design and collaborative art projects. Demirtas holds the degrees of Master of Science in Architectural Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bachelor of Architecture from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. Before establishing her own practice, she worked as lead designer with, among others, I.M. Pei, for the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, and the Miho Chapel in Kyoto, Japan. She has a number of articles in journals, and chapters in books published by MIT Press, Verlag der Bauhaus and Harvard University Press.  Aslihan Demirtas is currently teaching design studio at the Parsons School of Constructed Environments. She has taught at Fordham University and MIT, and has lectured at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, MIT and Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany.

www.aslihan-demirtas.com

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Karen Andreassian is a Yerevan-based artist and an activist. His exhibitions and projects include: Absence/Presence, Yerevan, 1993; the Venice Biennial, Armenian pavilion, 1995; the “Geo-Kunst Expedition” within the framework of Documenta X, in 1997; ‘(hi)story’‚ Salzburg Kunstverein, Austria 2002; and Adieu Parajanov, Kunsthalle Vienna, Austria 2003; Since 2003 he has been working on a long-term network project, Voghchaberd, which was presented at the Centre for the Contemporary Image, Geneva, 2004 and XV Biennale de Paris, 2006, and is in the Fonds régionaux d’art contemporain collection, France.  His Ontological Walkscapes is an ongoing project, part of which was presented at the 11th International Istanbul Biennial, 2009. Its present Blind Dates installment, entitled 960, is the artist’s debut in New York.

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Citizen Walker Sergey, an engineer who worked on the construction of the American Embassy in Yerevan.

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Michael Blum (b. Jerusalem, 1966) is an artist and writer based in Vienna

and Montreal. His work aims at critically rereading the production of culture, myths, and history. Recent projects include A Tribute to Safiye Behar, 9th Istanbul Biennial (2005); Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co., De Appel, Amsterdam (2006); Cape Town – Stockholm (On Thembo Mjobo), Mobile Art Production, Stockholm (2007), and Exodus 2048, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2008) and New Museum, New York (2009). He is currently a visiting professor at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal.

www.blumology.net

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Damir Nikšić is a Stockholm-based conceptual artist from Sarajevo, whose work in video, installation, and performance often addresses Orientalism in cultural and cross-cultural psychology.  His work has been exhibited in a variety of venues throughout Europe and the US, including the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo; National Museum of Montenegro, Cetinje; Trevi Flash Art Museum, Trevi; Center for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade; National Museum, Szczecin; National Gallery, Skopje; Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto; Palazzo Papesse Centre for Contemporary Art, Siena; Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Tallin Art Hall, Tallin; Locarno Film Festival, Locarno; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Sammlung Essl, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Palais and Lichtenstein Museum of Modern Art, Vienna; and the 50th Venice Biennale.

www.damirniksic.com

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Jean-Marie Casbarian incorporates photography, film and video projections, sound, sculpture and performance into her artworks. She received her Master of Fine Arts from the Milton Avery School of Art at Bard College in New York, and along with a nomination for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, she has received a number of awards and artist residencies. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Currently, Jean-Marie is chair of the Studio Arts Program at Transart Institute, a low-residency MFA program based in Berlin and New York City, where she also teaches and mentors graduate students.

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Nazan Maksudyan received her doctorate in history from Sabanci University in January 2008, with her dissertation entitled “Hearing the Voiceless – Seeing the Invisible: Orphans and Destitute Children as Actors of Social, Economic, and Political History in the Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Empire.” She taught courses on Ottoman and European social history, and the history of childhood, at Boğaziçi and Sabanci Universities in 2008 and 2009. Currently, she is a post-doctoral fellow of the Europe in the Middle East – Middle East in Europe (EUME) program of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Her publications include: “Foster-Daughter or Servant, Charity or Abuse: Beslemes in the Late Ottoman Empire,” Journal of Historical Sociology 21 (2008): 488-512; “Fight over ‘Nobody’s Children’: Religion, Nationality, and Citizenship of Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Empire,” New Perspectives on Turkey 41 (Fall 2009): 151-180; “Türklüğü Ölçmek: Bilimkurgusal Antropoloji ve Türk Milliyetçiliğinin Irkçı Çehresi, 1925-1939 [Measuring Turkishness: Science-Fictive Anthropology and Racist Face of Turkish Nationalism, 1925-1939],” (İstanbul: Metis, 2005; 2nd ed. 2007); “The Turkish Review of Anthropology and the Racist Face of Turkish Nationalism,” Cultural Dynamics 17 (2005): 291-322.

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Hrayr Anmahouni Eulmessekian (b. 1958, Beirut) is a graduate of Nishan Palandjian Djemaran. He attended the Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts for two years. In 1984, leaving behind the ravages of the first ten years of the civil war, he moved to San Francisco and received his BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Considered a post-disciplinary artist often making ephemeral works, he employs varied media, such as film, video, silkscreen, photography, and painting, to interrogate the nature of representation, subjectivity, language, identity and history as constructs. His works have been exhibited, screened or broadcast in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Yerevan and Dubai, as well as most recently at Sharjah Biennial’s global gathering, “The March Meeting.” A founding member of the San Francisco Armenian Film Festival, he serves on its curatorial team.

http://www.ehrayr.com

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Anahid Kassabian‘s research and teaching focus on ubiquitous music; music, sound, and moving images; listening; disciplinarity; music and new technologies, especially games, virtual worlds, and pervasive computing; and music and media scholarship drawing on feminist and postcolonial theories. She has written, most frequently with David Kazanjian, about films made by Anglophone diasporan Armenians. She is the author of Hearing Film (Routledge, 2001) and of the forthcoming Affective Listening (University of California Press). She received her doctorate in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University.  After serving on faculties of Women’s Studies, Literary Studies, and Communication and Media Studies at universities in California and New York, she moved to the UK. Anahid currently serves on the Board of Directors of Aunt Lute Books (since 1992), a feminist press in San Francisco focusing on works by women writers from underrepresented communities, on the Advisory Board of ArteEast (since 2003), a Middle East arts organization in New York City, and on the Board of Directors of the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival (since 2009), the largest festival of its kind in the UK.

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Özge Ersoy is a curator based in New York and Istanbul. She received her MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, NY, and holds a BA in International Relations from Bogaziçi University, Istanbul and Binghamton University, NY. Ersoy was the co-curator of the video screening “Strike a Pose” that was commissioned by Bidoun Projects at Art Dubai 2010. It also traveled to Townhouse Gallery in Cairo and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. She recently edited a publication entitled How to Begin? Envisioning the Impact of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which investigates the artistic, cultural, and social implications of the upcoming museum.

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Taline Toutounjian is a graduate student in the Department of Museum Studies at New York University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, and is currently Assistant Registrar at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York.

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Linda Ganjian is a Queens-based artist who makes large-scale sculptures inspired by Middle Eastern carpets and calligraphy. Her work involves the accumulation and arrangement of hundreds of handmade miniature forms, derived from impressions of her childhood, as well as of the urban environment. Her work has been exhibited in New York and abroad. Highlights: Artspace, New Haven, CT, (un(spoken), 2009); National Academy Museum NY (183rd Annual Invitational, 2008); Socrates Sculpture Park (EAF 2007); Queens Museum (Queens International, 2006); Storefront for Art and Architecture (Portable 2006); eyewash@Boreas Gallery (Urban Designs solo show, 2006); the Brooklyn Museum of Art (Open House: Working in Brooklyn, 2004); and Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal in Leiden, Holland (2001). Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times and Art in America. She has received grants and fellowships from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, Artslink, the ARPA foundation, and the MacDowell Colony. She recently was awarded a public art commission for a school through the Percent for Art program. www.lindaganjian.net

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Elif Uras was born in Ankara, Turkey and lives and works between New York and Istanbul. Her paintings on canvas and ceramics are concerned with the tensions and slippages between modernity and tradition. For the past four years, in a residency at the Iznik Foundation, in Iznik, Turkey, she has been creating work in ceramic that re-contextualizes the Ottoman tradition of pottery and its visual vocabulary. Uras holds a BA from Brown University in economics and a JD from the Columbia University School of Law. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2001 and her MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2003. Selected one-person and group exhibitions include: Galerist, Istanbul (Panaroma Pasaji/Panaroma Arcade, 2009); Pera Museum, Istanbul (Octet, 2009); Kirkhoff, Copenhagen (2008); Smith-Stewart, New York (The Occidentalist, 2007); Mary Boone Gallery, New York (View (Eleven), 2006); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2006); Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston (2005); PS1/MOMA (Greater New York, 2005); Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2003); Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2003); and Proje4L, Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul (Organized Conflict, 2003).

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Aram Jibilian arrived in New York in 1998 to pursue a Masters of Art at New York University‘s Steinhardt School of Art and Arts Education. Just after his master‘s thesis exhibition in the spring of 2000, Aram was invited to show at 80 Washington Square East Galleries along with other selected artists who had graduated from NYU in the past ten years. He was invited back again in 2005 for the exhibition Art Noise, Steinhardt Alumni. In 2004, his work was selected by artists Jack Pierson and Cindy Sherman to be part of a group show of emerging artists that took place at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York City. This fall he will be exhibiting at the Pratt Manhattan Galleries as part of the Blind Dates Project. Aram currently works as the Director of Photography Archives at The Pace Gallery as he continues to exhibit throughout the city.

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Aaron Mattocks, a Pennsylvania native and Sarah Lawrence College alumnus, studied dance with Viola Farber, Dan Hurlin, Sara Rudner and Mark Morris. He has performed in works by John Jasperse, Christopher Williams, Kathy Westwater, Ursula Eagly, The Little Lords, and Opera Erratica. He assisted Mark Morris on the staging of Stravinsky’s Renard for the Tanglewood Music Center. He is a member of OtherShore, performing in works by Annie-B Parson/Paul Lazar, and Jodi Melnick. He recently appeared in John Heginbotham’s One-Man Show at Joe’s Pub, and with Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks in the 2010 River to River Festival. He will portray Death in the upcoming Supernatural Wife with Big Dance Theater (opening in Paris in March 2011, then subsequently at the Walker Arts Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival).

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Nina Katchadourian is an artist of Swedish-Finnish and Turkish-Armenian-Lebanese heritage who engages issues of geography and identity in her artworks. Nina Katchadourian’s wide-ranging, inventive conceptual practice encompasses sculpture, photography, video, sound, and public projects in which she highlights and alters familiar systems with unlikely observations, interventions and “improvements,” resulting in irreverent, memorable works that are at once philosophical and accessible. Katchadourian was born in Stanford, California, and lives and works in Brooklyn. She received a BA from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (1989); an MFA from the University of California, San Diego (1993); and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program (1996).

http://www.ninakatchadourian.com/

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Ahmet Öğüt, of Kurdish-Turkish background, was born in Diyarbakir, Turkey in 1981, lives and works in Amsterdam. He works with a broad range of media including video, photography, installation, drawing and printed media. He received his BA in painting from Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey in 2003, and his MA from the Art and Design Faculty at Yildiz Teknik University in Istanbul in 2006.  He completed a two-year residency at Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from 2007–2008. Solo exhibitions include Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA), 2010; Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney, 2010; MATRIX Program, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive BAM/PFA, 2010; Künstlerhaus Bremen, 2009; and Kunsthalle Basel, 2008. Group exhibitions include Performa 09, The Third Biennial of Visual Art Performance, 2009; 5th Berlin Biennial, Berlin, 2008; Stalking with Stories, Apexart, New York, 2007, Normalization, Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, 2006 and 9th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2005. In 2009 Ahmet Öğüt co-represented Turkey at the 53rd Venice Biennale. In 2010 he received the Europas Zukunft prize from the Museum of Contemporary Art (GfZK) Leipzig, 2010. http://www.ahmetogut.com/

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Karine Matsakian was born in Gyumri, Armenia, in 1959 and is a graduate of the Yerevan Academy of Fine Arts (1985). Her earlier paintings and pop sculptures, and more recently performance-based installations and video work incorporate her body to question the effects of consumerism, domestic violence and gender inequality. Solo exhibitions she has had in Armenia and Europe include: Charley Khachaturian Gallery, Yerevan (1997); Kultur Kontact, Vienna (2001); Leube Kunst Project, Salzburg (2001, with an artist residency) and at ACCEA in Yerevan (2009).  Group exhibitions include 3rd-Floor, House of Artists in Yerevan (1987); Work in Progress, 49th Venice Biennale, San Lazzaro Monastery (2001), curator Edward Balassanian; and Getting Closer, at the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, ifa-Galerie, Berlin, curator Mika Hannula (2003). Matsakian lives in Yerevan and teaches new media art and graphic design at the Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex. Blind Dates is her New York debut.

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Born in Berd, Armenia in 1979, Sona Abgarian is a Yerevan-based artist whose works often involve collaborations and examine the situation of children and women in Armenia.  Abgarian’s first solo exhibition, Cool Generation, was organized by Eva Khachatryan at NPAK (ACCEA) in 2003. Her works have been included in the XLIX Venice Biennale 2003, Armenian pavilion, as well in Adieu Parajanov, 2003, Vienna Kunsthalle (organized by Georg Schöllhammer). She is the co-founder of the first female rock band in Armenia, named Incest, and is the organizer of the Rusty Pumpkin media festival.  She teaches at and is the director of the cinema and photography department at the Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex of Yerevan. Recently she completed a residency with Utopiana in Geneva. Blind Dates is her New York debut.

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Born to an Iraqi father and a Lebanese mother, Jalal Toufic, “a thinker and a mortal to death,” has influenced and/or collaborated in an untimely manner with an emerging generation of visual artists from the Middle East, including Walid Raad. He is the author of Distracted (1991; 2nd ed., 2003); (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film (1993; 2nd ed., 2003); Over-Sensitivity (1996; 2nd ed., 2009); Forthcoming (2000); Undying Love, or Love Dies (2002); Two or Three Things I’m Dying to Tell You (2005); ‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins (2005); Undeserving Lebanon (2007), The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster (2009); and Graziella: The Corrected Edition (2009). Several of his books are available for download as PDF files at his website: http://www.jalaltoufic.com. Toufic currently teaches at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. He will be a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD in 2011.

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Selim S. Kuru was born in Samsun, Turkey. He teaches at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and Ottoman and Turkish Summer School in Cunda, Ayvalık, Turkey. His work deals with the development of literature, canon formation, and formulations of love in the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire.

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Stefanos Tsivopoulos (b. 1973) is a Greek artist who lives and works in Amsterdam and Athens.  His works have been exhibited at the Manifesta 8 Murcia; 1st Athens Biennial; Witte de With, Rotterdam; BFI Southbank, London; Friedericianum Kunstverein Kassel, ev+a Biennial Limerick, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art,Belgrade; Museum of Contemporary Art, Heidelberg; Centre Photographique d’Isle, Paris; and Sammlung Essl,Vienna. He has been artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam; Platform Garanti, Istanbul; and IASPIS, Stockholm.

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Christopher Williams is a dancer, choreographer, and puppeteer.  He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.  He has danced for Tere O’Connor Dance, Douglas Dunn & Dancers, Rebecca Lazier’s TERRAIN, John Kelly, and Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks,  and has performed for puppetry artists Basil Twist and Dan Hurlin.  His own works have been shown in New York City at City Center, Danspace Project, Dance New Amsterdam, Dance Theater Workshop, P.S. 122, and La Mama; and internationally in Bogotá, Colombia.  In 2005 he received a New York Dance & Performance “Bessie” Award for his work Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins, and he has since collaborated with members of the acclaimed vocal ensembles Anonymous 4, and Lionheart. He is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. He has been commissioned by the Dream Music Puppetry Program, Tisch School of the Arts, and Princeton University, and has held creative residencies at Movement Research, Dance New Amsterdam, Joyce SoHo, Djerassi, White Oak Plantation, Yaddo, The Yard, and the Liguria Study Center for Arts & Humanities in Bogliasco, Italy.

Carlos Fittante is of Spanish/Italian descent and is a graduate of the School of American Ballet. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Empire State College. He is the artistic director of BALAM Dance Theatre, a unique dance company that fuses contemporary dance and diverse dance styles from around the world with Balinese theatre.  A virtuoso male Baroque dancer and choreographer, Fittante performs and teaches extensively in period music events around the United States.  He is also on the faculty of the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, where he teaches Mask & Gesture and Movement for Actors. He has extensive performing credits, including the Metropolitan Opera, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; ABAO Opera, Bilbao, Spain; Santa Fe Opera; Ballet Santa Barbara; New York Theatre Ballet; Neo Labos Dance Theatre; Temple of Jehan; Danzas Españolas; and Gamelan Semara Ratih. He has performed at prestigious venues, including Lincoln Center, NY; the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; Barbican Center, London; Suntory Hall, Tokyo; Yale University; Princeton University; Columbia University’s Teachers College; and Bard College.

Ursula Eagly makes bizarre performances full of darkness, humor, and other contradictions. Her last piece, Fields of Ida, premiered at Dance Theater Workshop in October 2009, and toured to Macedonia and Albania. Her approach to movement — and specifically her interest in solo improvisation — is deeply influenced by four years of working with choreographers Yoshiko Chuma and Kathy Westwater.  Ursula is currently engaged in an on-going collaboration with the Macedonian choreographer Iskra Sukarova.

www.ursulaeagly.org

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xurban_collective is an international art collective founded in 2000 by Guven Incirlioglu (Izmir) and Hakan Topal (NY) as a transatlantic collaboration . Members include Mahir Yavuz (Linz) and Atif Akin (Istanbul). xurban_collective’s mission is to instigate the questioning, examination, and discussion of contemporary politics, theory, and ideology, utilizing documentary research and taking the form of media projects, installations and texts. The collective focuses specifically on areas of regional conflicts, military spatial confinement, urban segregation and “neo-liberal” exclusion strategies. xurban_collective exhibited internationally, including projects in institutions such as the 49th Venice Biennial (2001), the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, PS1/MoMA, Apexart, Exitart (2005) and ZKM – Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.

http://www.xurban.net/

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