Interior Irruptions

Faysal Altunbozar

Reviewed by Alberto Ortega

18 Jul 2021

Intrusion, 2020
keys to the gallery space, key ring, silver chain, stainless steel pendants
Photos: Jesse Meredith

Apart­ment in Riv­er North,
seek anony­mous encoun­ters.
dm for address, door unlocked

By strip­ping banal objects and spaces from their pri­ma­ry func­tions, these works pro­pose instinc­tu­al,* roman­tic,** and promis­cu­ous*** rela­tions over a util­i­tar­i­an**** one with­in the stan­dard­ized built envi­ron­ment.***** The fragili­ty of exis­tence, erotics of things, con­struc­tion of mas­culin­i­ty, and archi­tec­ture of desire are some of the themes that under­gird these works.

* Scent mark­ing, a com­mon mode of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in mam­mals, con­veys sev­er­al types of infor­ma­tion, includ­ing indi­vid­ual iden­ti­ty, sex, age, repro­duc­tive sta­tus, social sta­tus, health, qual­i­ty, kin­ship, and his­to­com­pat­i­bil­i­ty. How­ev­er, scent mark­ing can be dis­hon­est in cer­tain cir­cum­stances. Urine mark­ing can oper­ate as a dis­hon­est sig­nal in adult male domes­tic dogs, which raise a hindlimb when mark­ing ver­ti­cal objects. Small domes­tic adult male dogs may place urine marks high­er, rel­a­tive to their own body size, than larg­er adult male dogs to exag­ger­ate their com­pet­i­tive abil­i­ty.

** In 2000, Canan Şenol’s pub­lic art­work, a shop sign over an inter­net café that says “…nihayet içimdesin,” which trans­lates as ”…final­ly you are in me,” got removed from the pub­lic space in Istan­bul. The neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents found the sign intru­sive and offen­sive. Years lat­er, in 2015, the sign resur­faced as an object, sep­a­rat­ed from its build­ing. Canan re-exhib­it­ed it in a gallery space. The sign was placed on the bal­cony, which could be seen and read from the gar­den of the build­ing but not much from the street. This lust­ing state­ment could only exist in the pro­tec­tion of pri­vate space.

*** Take it to the lim­it! Mad Dog tat­tooist Robert Roberts, dur­ing a vis­it to Europe, cre­at­ed an imag­i­na­tive depth gauge” that reads both in inch­es and mil­lime­ters for this hot bar­tender from the Cuckoo’s Nest in Ams­ter­dam.

**** The hero and hero­ine of Dreyfuss’s 1955 book Design­ing for Peo­ple are an aver­age Amer­i­can cou­ple, by mid-cen­tu­ry stan­dards: Joe and Josephine. Dreyfuss’s col­league, Alvin R. Tilley, pored over data from fash­ion hous­es and the U.S. mil­i­tary and drew the char­ac­ters to specs rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the 50th per­centile of all men and women. Joe stood near­ly 5 foot 11 inch­es tall and weighed 162 pounds, while Josephine was just about 5 foot 5 inch­es and 135 pounds. Offices had wall charts with life-sized Joes and Josephines, which Tilley dis­trib­uted in a hand­book called The Mea­sure of Man. (Over the years, sev­er­al updat­ed edi­tions have been released to keep the mea­sure­ments cur­rent.) And design­ers used the fig­ures to cre­ate prod­ucts to fit the aver­age con­sumer. Joe enacts numer­ous roles. With­in twen­ty-four hours he may deter­mine the con­trol posi­tions on a lino­type, be mea­sured for an air­plane chair, be squeezed into an armored tank, or be dri­ving a trac­tor,” Drey­fuss not­ed. And we may pre­vail upon Josephine to do a day’s iron­ing, sit at a tele­phone switch­board, push a vac­u­um clean­er around a room, type a let­ter.” As this method of stan­dard­iza­tion of objects and spaces became out­dat­ed, fic­tion­al bod­ies of Joe and Josephine no longer oper­ate as a mea­sure of things.

***** In a recent inter­view, Aaron Bet­sky, writer of Queer Space: Archi­tec­ture and Same-Sex Desire, stat­ed that with the increased use of geolo­ca­tion dat­ing appli­ca­tions and use of dig­i­tal media, the mean­ing of queer has shift­ed for phys­i­cal archi­tec­ture. Inti­ma­cy between two pri­vate spaces, two bed­rooms, is now estab­lished through world wide web instead of medi­a­to­ry pub­lic space. Pub­lic toi­lets, bath hous­es, clubs, alleys, parks, gyms are less vital for queer survival.
Ref­er­enced and appro­pri­at­ed texts:
* B. McGuire, B. Olsen, K. E. Bemis, D. Orantes, Urine mark­ing in male domes­tic dogs: hon­est or dis­hon­est?” Jour­nal of Zool­o­gy (July 252018).
** Bu Sanat Yapıtı Çevr­eye Zarar­lı,” Siyah Bant (June 92000).
*** Drum­mer Mag­a­zine, Issue 12, Tat­too Fetish Feature.
**** Megan Gam­bi­no, The Smith­son­ian Design Muse­um Tells the Sto­ry of User-Cen­tered Design Through 120 Beau­ti­ful Prod­ucts,” Smith­son­ian Mag­a­zine (Decem­ber 122014).
***** Jaf­fer Kolb & Aaron Bet­sky, The End of Queer Space?,” Log 41 (Fall 2017).

Carnal Instincts, 2020
carbon steel, soap, jasmine oil, snap hooks
Photos: Jesse Meredith

Interior Irruptions (after Canan), 2019
smartphones, c-stand, custom mount
video on loop
Photos: Jesse Meredith

Ashes to ashes, 2019
glazed ceramics
Photos: Jesse Meredith

Limits, 2020
custom frame, archival print, resin, paper, wing nuts
Photos: Jesse Meredith

Hostings, 2020
soap, chain necklace, medallion, razor blades
Photos: Jesse Meredith

Chest, 2020
seasonal flowers in fridge, glass and metal pitchers, Gatorade
Photo: Jesse Meredith


By Alber­to Ortega

It was as if the strange bed where I’d been spend­ing my nights of late had become a kind of medi­um, dis­patch­ing warn­ing sig­nals to me across unseen wires from the realm of exile and home­less wan­der­ing.
Gha­da Sam­man

With these col­or blocks I can build an altar and a house and a tow­er and a tun­nel, and then I can knock them down.
Sal­vador Novo

The Promise and the City

There is, in the rel­a­tive­ly old idea of the city as a space of pos­si­bil­i­ty for the con­struc­tion of dif­fer­ent modes of asso­ci­a­tion, a nos­tal­gic form of utopi­anism that luck­i­ly refus­es to die. The chance for con­ceal­ment, cam­ou­flage, lav­ish­ness, excess and lib­er­a­tion have long been attached to a spa­tial gram­mar that mix­es futu­ri­ty with urban­i­ty, as if the for­mer was only pos­si­ble through the accu­mu­la­tion (of affects and bod­ies) implied by the lat­ter. In such ten­sion, there is the pos­si­bil­i­ty to refine our search for detours, tac­tics and ref­er­ences that might allow us to relo­cate and revi­tal­ize our con­cep­tu­al under­tak­ings in the search for anoth­er kind of life and most urgent­ly, for anoth­er kind of self.

Faysal Altunbozar’s solo exhi­bi­tion Inte­ri­or Irrup­tions took place in a 33rd-floor apart­ment turned into a gallery by Amazigh Con­tem­po­rary. At the end of the room, we encounter the piece that gives the exhi­bi­tion its title. Locat­ed fac­ing the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dow that frames Chicago’s sky­line, Inte­ri­or Irrup­tions (after Canan) con­sists of two iPhones turned into a bill­board. The devices slow­ly reveal the mes­sage Soon, I’ll be in you,” a sort of per­son­al promise, a wink to dig­i­tal forms of cruis­ing and to Canan Senol’s ear­ly aughts pub­lic inter­ven­tion in Istan­bul, where a shop sign Senol installed in the façade of a build­ing, read­ing “…final­ly you are in me,” was forced to be removed as it was deemed offen­sive by neigh­bors of the build­ing. The work would lat­er be exhib­it­ed again on the bal­cony of a gallery, hid­den from the pub­lic and pro­tect­ed by the pri­vate space host­ing it. 

Through his bill­board, Altun­bozar points at the ten­sion between the vis­i­tor and the col­lec­tive out­side, while the con­tent broad­cast by the smart­phones becomes one of the hinges from which to artic­u­late the shapeshift­ing nature of the scales of desire embod­ied in the rest of the show. Act­ing as a sig­nal hold­er, Inte­ri­or Irrup­tions (after Canan), is also an invi­ta­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the game of the cod­ed inter­ac­tions of phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal cruising.

In this promise of pos­ses­sion and/​as intru­sion, Altunbozar’s work allows us to think of ways in which futu­ri­ty can be locat­ed else­where by means of urban­i­ty and not pre­cise­ly in the urban as such. By broad­cast­ing a some­what dis­em­bod­ied, free-float­ing, inti­mate account in this bill­board, the lim­its of the economies of pri­va­cy allow us to find in our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the mak­ing of the pub­lic realm a lib­er­at­ing and nonethe­less con­fus­ing posi­tion. In the shifts in scale and the invo­ca­tion of a queer tem­po­ral­i­ty through the work, we find that there is more of the sys­tems that oppress us with­in us than of us in them, and that is pre­cise­ly what the promise seeks to sab­o­tage. In the broad­cast­ing of a lust­ful yet to be real­ized encounter, there is a call to arms for the oblit­er­a­tion of the sta­tis­ti­cal soul and the appeal to the reshap­ing of our-selves through the hijack­ing of infra­struc­tur­al elements.

The body and the lim­its of the limit

In the mid­dle of the room, two veiny ceram­ic pro­tein-shake urns sit atop a blue wood­en lock­er room bench, while a third jar rests on the floor. Roman­ti­cal­ly titled Ash­es to Ash­es, Altun­bozar cap­tures an Edel­man­ian death-dri­ve, dis­joints it, and expos­es a pro­duc­tive nihilism towards the frailty implied in the mak­ing of mas­culin­i­ty. Invok­ing a phan­tas­mago­ria of pub­lic sex, a space of pos­si­bil­i­ty for the def­i­n­i­tion of self man­i­fests itself in the cir­cu­la­tion of one’s own wants and needs with and through strangers. The ceram­ic urns are turned into life-affirm­ing ves­sels and act as a reminder of the forms of agency latent in the mean­ing-mak­ing of our own bod­i­ly fini­tude. In a time when pes­simist pol­i­tics and com­mis­er­at­ing aes­thet­ics abound, this feels like a tru­ly rad­i­cal stance.

While, the reminder is clear and odd­ly com­fort­ing, the chal­lenges posed by Altunbozar’s syn­tax are even more rel­e­vant in the cur­rent cli­mate of col­lec­tive uncer­tain­ty faced by the advent of fas­cism and reac­tionary pol­i­tics try­ing to push queer life back into the domes­tic space while still mak­ing vis­i­ble the priv­i­leges grant­ed to mas­culin­i­ty in the pub­lic domain.

In Lim­its, two sets of prints of fore­arms are tied togeth­er by nuts and bolts with a lubri­cant bar between them. One image is an anthro­po­met­ric dia­gram, and the oth­er is a pho­to­graph. The sug­ges­tion of fist­ing per­formed by the images allows us to dig deep­er in the fold­ed nature between the stan­dard­iza­tion of bod­ies and the pol­i­tics of reg­u­la­tion of prac­tices between them. With this ges­ture, the work pro­pos­es to unrav­el the pos­si­bil­i­ties of lust­ful inter­ac­tions (in a mate­r­i­al and con­cep­tu­al sense) as the refusal to exist mere­ly as an index of measurement. 

Plas­tic­i­ty and shifts in scale, are key ele­ments for the mate­r­i­al exchanges in the envi­ron­ment pro­duced by Altun­bozar. The body and its lim­its (of rep­re­sen­ta­tion and inter­ac­tion) are not bound to the indi­vid­ual fleshy self but artic­u­late a body that is in its cir­cu­la­tion and assem­bly with oth­ers in dif­fer­ent shapes and direc­tions. So we are com­pelled to push this slip­per­i­ness into dif­fer­ent scales of social­i­ty, where being and being-in-one-anoth­er become a pol­i­tics of lust­ing for togeth­er­ness beyond measure.

And soon,
you’ll be
In me.

Across the room from Lim­its, Car­nal Instincts is a uri­nal divider made of soap with an inner, sup­port­ing struc­ture of car­bon steel wire in the shape of a dog’s leg. In his exhi­bi­tion text, Altun­bozar men­tions the urine mark­ing tac­tic used by small domes­tic dogs piss­ing high­er as an action to exag­ger­ate their social stand­ing in order to deceive poten­tial mates and com­peti­tors. The pres­ence and empha­sis on strate­gies of decep­tion by oth­er species makes evi­dent the nor­mal­iza­tion of cam­ou­flage for the preser­va­tion of queer life, but also and more impor­tant­ly the claim to build a queer under­stand­ing of cun­ning as a nec­es­sary tac­tic for rad­i­cal politics.

Host­ings, is a pair of soap hold­er sculp­tures also made of soap, stand­ing sub­tly next to the kitchen space of the apart­ment. Blend­ing into the domes­tic space, the sculp­tures hold respec­tive­ly two razor blades and a gold­en neck­lace, sug­gest­ing the code of a risky, nos­tal­gic pres­ence, or mem­o­ry, of a stranger, a lover, in the show­er. The use of scent­ed soap for Car­nal Instincts and Host­ings is not gra­tu­itous. Such mate­r­i­al qual­i­ty per­forms as a demand for tech­nolo­gies of care to be cen­tral to the pub­lic realm, not as a com­mod­i­ty but as a fun­da­men­tal qual­i­ty in the domain of the com­mons. In these pre­cise mate­r­i­al oper­a­tions, the artist invites us to reclaim the right for plea­sure not as a mark­ing of priv­i­lege but as the cor­ner­stone for a promis­cu­ous soci­ety to come. 

The image of promis­cu­ity becomes a locus for notions of preser­va­tion and endurance artic­u­lat­ed in Chest, a gor­geous still life with sea­son­al flow­ers rest­ing in glass and met­al pitch­ers and feed­ing on Gatorade inside an open fridge. Aside from the orgias­tic ref­er­ence sig­naled by the ener­gy drink, the piece asserts in plea­sure a mode of a sea­son­al becom­ing of the self. Sex­u­al­i­ty as spring as rev­o­lu­tion (although, again, our metaphors should also be refreshed). In the rhythms of sex­u­al­i­ty and its modal­i­ties of per­pet­u­a­tion, we find the pos­si­bil­i­ty that, in the pro­duc­tion of plea­sure, a kind of affil­i­a­tion with­out fil­i­a­tion emerges as a gen­er­a­tive are­na for a new form of ethics.


We close the door of the apart­ment to leave, and we find in it the final — or ini­tial — piece of the show (the order is irrel­e­vant at this and any point). Intru­sion is the key to the apart­ment, stuck in the door han­dle, tied by a three-meter-long key­chain to a pen­dant with two sil­ver shells that rest around the cor­ner of the cor­ri­dor that led us to the space. This ges­ture of ter­ri­to­r­i­al mark­ing sig­nals the artist’s tac­tics of inter-species learn­ing and adap­ta­tion through a keen under­stand­ing of the his­to­ry of orna­men­ta­tion, pre­cise­ly as an arti­fact of ter­ri­to­ri­al­i­ty, a sub­tle excess of pres­ence. In the stretch­ing of the key­chain, the invi­ta­tion is not about enter­ing a domes­tic queer space but rather of queer­ing the very idea of domes­tic­i­ty. The affec­tive-per­cep­tu­al trick between the dis­tance and prox­im­i­ty of the expe­ri­ence await­ing inside this new kind of inte­ri­or­i­ty reveals that the access to such space relies on a wide array of points of con­ver­gence and depar­ture that are com­plete­ly autonomous from our sub­jec­tiv­i­ties. Every time we open this door, the out­side we encounter will be entire­ly different.


Faysal Altun­bozar (b. 1993, Istan­bul) is an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary artist who employs objects, texts, and instal­la­tions to gen­er­ate dis­ori­ent­ing moments that play with the over­ar­ch­ing pow­er struc­tures imposed upon us. An MFA recip­i­ent from the School of the Art Insti­tute of Chica­go, his work has been exhib­it­ed in Turkey, Italy, the Nether­lands, and the Unit­ed States. Faysal’s work is focused on how objects and spaces con­struct, manip­u­late and ori­ent our desires and iden­ti­ties. His recent solo and duo exhi­bi­tions were pre­sent­ed at Prairie, Space P11, and Amazigh Con­tem­po­rary. He is the recip­i­ent of the John W. Kur­tich Trav­el Fel­low­ship, Shapiro Cen­ter Grad­u­ate Research Fel­low­ship Award, and New Artist Soci­ety Schol­ar­ship. www​.faysalal​tun​bozar​.com
Email: faysalaltunbozar@​gmail.​com

Alber­to Orte­ga is a Mex­i­can artist and archi­tec­tur­al design­er based in Chica­go, IL, and Pachu­ca, Mex­i­co. His work uses archi­tec­tur­al design, writ­ing, video, pub­lic pro­grams, and per­for­mance to address his­to­ries of social strug­gles, racial­iza­tion, and class dynam­ics in the Amer­i­c­as. He has been a grantee of the New Artists Soci­ety of the School of the Art Insti­tute of Chica­go, the Jumex Foun­da­tion for Con­tem­po­rary Art, the John W. Kur­tich Foun­da­tion, and the Andrew W. Mel­lon Foun­da­tion (Fel­low, Anti Racism and Glob­al Archi­tec­ture His­to­ry). He is a mem­ber of the Glob­al Archi­tec­ture His­to­ry Teach­ing Col­lab­o­ra­tive of the Depart­ment of Archi­tec­ture at MIT. His work has been shown at the 16th Venice Archi­tec­ture Bien­nale, the Chica­go Design Muse­um, Extase, SITE Gal­leries, Space p11, and the Cen­tro de Arte y Filosofia, among oth­er venues. https://​aes​thet​icpromis​cu​ity​.com
Email: albertortegatrejo@​gmail.​com