Top Hasan Özgür Top lives and works in Istanbul, TR


Set in an interrogation room, The Fall of a Hero (2020) shows a suspect (played by the artist) describing to an off-camera voice the Islamic State’s recruitment materials and the way they construct a familiar postlapsarian account. A call to restore glory after a putative fall from grace is couched in the language of moral urgency: Make the caliphate great again! We learn that ISIS uses the Trajan font—popular among marketers of Hollywood films and video games like Lord of the Rings and Assassin’s Creed—in their propaganda materials. But the intersections with pop culture do not end here: others include homophobic homosociality; a view of history as an endless struggle against decadence; violence as apotropaic remedy; and heroic masculinity as the solution rather than toxic masculinity as the problem.


Hasan Özgür Top, The Fall of a Hero, 2020, full HD video, color, sound, 14’48’’, video still © Hasan Özgür Top


Hasan Özgür Top, The Fall of a Hero, 2020, full HD video, color, sound, 14’48’’, video still © Hasan Özgür Top

The perspective that emerges from The Fall of a Hero is a strong corrective to “clash of civilizations” narratives. Rather than iconoclastic, the Islamic State is iconophilic: its strategy is wholly dependent on image management. The organization engages, although obliquely, in a global visual dialogue that revolves around themes of nihilism and masculinity. Mapping the structures of affect that preside over its successful mobilization and militancy, Hasan Özgür Top draws out ISIS’s intersection with other political projects that glorified war, like early twentieth-century fascism. Most importantly, the artist depicts ISIS policies not as archaic and backward but as a stellar example of what the American writer and urbanist Keller Easterling has termed “extrastate-craft”: the multiple semi-state or nonstate forces that have attained sufficient power and administrative authority under the conditions of globalization to undertake the building of infrastructure. From this perspective, the Islamic State can also provide insight into the entanglements of clandestine insurgency with underground economies, digital platforms, and transnational finance as a symptom of the new global order.


Ana Teixeira Pinto


A Few in Many Places, 2020, Skalitzer Str. 114, Berlin (DE)

37th Torino Film Festival, 2019, Turin (IT)

Protocinema at Proyecto AMIL, 2018, Centro Comercial Camino Real, Lima (PE)

If You Can’t Go Through The Door, Go Through The Window, 2016, Alt Art Space, Istanbul (TR)

Our current stance, 2015, 5533, Istanbul (TR)