In Conversation: Art Institutions and Contemporary Art Practices beyond the West


1:30pm  — 3:00pm


Neuberger Museum of Art
A roundtable discussion considering the role of art institutions and changing scapes of contemporary art post-Arab-Spring, post-Gezi era, and how these tectonic social, political shifts have been redefining cultural production both abroad and in the US.

Presented by East++ Institute for New Artistic Inquiry and Neuberger Museum of Art 


Artist, Assistant Professor of New Media and Art+Design, Purchase College

Hakan Topal is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently an Assistant Professor of New Media and Art + Design at Purchase College, State University New York. Trained as a civil engineer (B.S. at METU, Ankara), he continued his studies in Gender and Women’s Studies (M.S. at METU) and Sociology (M.A. at NSSR, New York). He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research with a focus on urban sociology and sociology of arts. He was the co-founder of the international art collective xurban collective (2000–2012) 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, New York; Platform, Istanbul, the 9th Gwangju Bienniale; and ICP Museum, New York. 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.

Assistant Professor, Arts Management , Purchase College

Dr. Melissa Forstrom is an Assistant Professor at Purchase College- State University of New York. Her research and teaching focuses on the intersection(s) of exhibitions, museum interpretation, communications and society. Her current research project documents and analyzes the changing interpretation in Islamic art exhibition in the USA, Europe, and Asia. 

Having presented her research at conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore and Russia, Melissa has also been invited to speak at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the New York Public Library, the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture at the American Alliance of Museums Conference, and P21 Gallery (London). She has guest lectured at The New School, Johns Hopkins, the University of Leicester-UK, University of Oslo, Humboldt University-Berlin, University of Westminster- London, and the University of Wales.


Independent Art Curator & Founder of Temporary Art Platform (T.A.P), Lebanon

Amanda Abi Khalil is an independent curator based in Beirut. She has been focusing her curatorial projects on socially engaged art practices. She is the founder of Temporary Art Platform, a curatorial platform that aims to shift artistic and curatorial discourse towards social and contextual concerns in Lebanon through residencies, research projects and commissions. Her latest curatorial projects include Mathaf Mathaf / Chou Hayda, a commission to Annabel Daou for the National Museum of Beirut (2018),  Art at AUBMC , public art commissions for the new Medical Center of AUH (2018), Works on Paper, a series of twelve commissions for Lebanese daily newspapers (2015). Abi Khalil’s recent curated exhibitions include Kurz/Dust (co-curated with Anna Ptak) at the Center for Contemporary Arts Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, White Cube Literally, on form and convention of display, When all seemingly stands still (Dubai) and Simple past, Perfect Futures (Paris). In 2018 she was a curator in residence at the Delfina Foundation, London; Inclusartiz, Rio de Janeiro and is the recipient of the 2018 Jane Farver Residency at ISCP, New York. In 2016 she was nominated for ICI’s independent curatorial vision award. She teaches at the American University of Beirut (AUB) the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) and the Saint Joseph University (USJ) in Beirut.



East++ is a new institution that focuses on alternative art and culture from the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and diasporic and indigenous cultures in the US, which was established at Purchase College in 2018. East++ is the first of its kind in an American university, an artistic research platform, an alternative think-tank, where we work on novel strategies to foster new discourses, beyond prepackaged stereotypes, and cultural silos.


Free with museum admission