Ege Okal

Undergraduate Discipline

Visual and Studio Arts

BA, Sabanci University, Istanbul. MFA, Cornell University. A New York-based artist, curator, and cultural worker, Okal's work reimagines and reconfigures the material and experiential qualities of violence, space, gender, language, diplomacy, memory, and humor through moving-image and installation. Her methodology is in the act of hand-working the artistic process. Both her artistic and curatorial practices involve collaborative thinking, participation, storytelling, and care. Okal created and conducted the course Food: Culture, Cultivation, Design at Bilgi University in Istanbul. She has also worked as a photojournalist at the United Nations. Okal's recent exhibitions include: Home Alone, Pera Museum in Istanbul; How to Build an Ocean, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York City; Tourist, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Or High Water, Safe Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. Her collaborative animated short film, Merkür, was screened in Istanbul Film Festival, DOK Leipzig, Anifilm, Melbourne International Animation Festival, Helsinki Film Festival, Stockholm Experimental & Animation Film Festival. SLC, 2022–

Undergraduate Courses 2024-2025

Visual and Studio Arts

Photographing Friendship

Open, Seminar—Fall

ARTS 3106

This introductory photography studio class provides students with essential training in camera techniques and workflows, covering topics such as lighting, editing, and printing. Friendship—a voluntary relationship—provides a fertile ground for examining the idea of community. What is friendship? Do friends have to be similar, or can they exist in difference? Can a strong friendship come to an end? Can humans and animals be friends? How do we deal with the loss of a friendship? Are we each other's storytellers? By examining artists and texts from diverse disciplines, such as Sharon Lockhart and Elena Ferrante, students will develop the skills to deeply investigate and portray the essence of “one friendship of their choice” through photography.


Previous Courses

Visual and Studio Arts

Artists and Spaces

Open, Concept—Spring

What constitutes a space? We will focus on aesthetics of space, spacial stories, narrated spaces and nature, spaces of memory, ceremonial spaces, the sublime, architecture, places of politics, digital spaces, maps, dwellings, walkings, passings, and artists’ workspaces: the studio and non-studio, the real estate, and the exhibition spaces, such as the white cube. We will be discussing some short texts before each assignment to inspire spatial thinking. The students will be thinking about their shared workspace, as well as the spaces in their subject matter. We will look at texts that inform many artists in their spatial philosophy, such as Plato’s Cave, Gaston Bachelard’s text, The Poetics of Space; Franz Kafka’s unfinished short story, The Burrow; and more. Class discussions, studio assignments, class presentations, and group exercises will help students develop critical theories and techniques for decoding multiple dimensions of space in photographic medium. Some artists we will look at are Martine Syms, Ed Ruscha, Mariem Bennani, Jacolby Satterwhite, Trevor Paglen, Alex Da Corte, Thomas Hirschhorn, Coco Fusco, Andrea Zittel, Theaster Gates, Gordon Matta-Clark, James Turrell, Maya Lin, and Caroline Woolard.


Photographic Fairytales

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course is an introduction to photography studio class in which students will be learning basic digital camera techniques and workflows, including lighting, editing, and printing through constraint-driven assignments. As a conceptual bridge between cultural representations and interdisciplinary performances, we will be looking at myths, folklore, and fairytales as a force of social transformation. How do these often violent or crude tales become moral and magical lessons? How can we reinterpret them aesthetically to reveal new meanings? Students will be bringing in various folk tales and fairytales for discussion, and we will be looking at historical literary examples as well as contemporary artists who employ these narrative methods. We will bring the discussion to forms of digital storytelling: Are memes today’s folktales? Artists include George Méliès, Benjamin Christensen, Kara Walker, Paul McCarthy, Man Ray, Sigrid Holmwood, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Basim Magdy. Students are recommended to have their own DSLR camera with manual settings, but all camera formats are welcome.


The Camera and Catastrophe

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall

The Anthropocene, the Capitalocene, the news cycle, a global pandemic, the struggles in human rights, the climate crisis at our gates, and the finitude of being posed in a world full of anxiety. Deep breaths! How do artists approach, respond to, and propose new work within these urgent themes, when the human state is seemingly always being at the edge of a disaster but also always in a new beginning? What are some compelling survival, aesthetic, ethical strategies and questions developed by artists? Can we establish new visual vocabularies? In this studio class, we will be doing short readings and discussions, group exercises, artists presentations, and studio assignments to develop both critical and practical approaches to understanding, deconstructing, and decompressing our modern condition. We will read from thinkers such as Donna Haraway, Martin Heidegger, T.  J. Demos, and Saidiya Hartman and look at artists such as John Akromfrah, Ursula Biemann, Arthur Jafa, Forensic Architecture, Alfredo Jaar, Hito Steyerl, Doris Salcedo, Francis Alÿs, and more. Guest participants may include scholars, practicing artists, filmmakers, newscasters, and palliative specialists.