Pelin Tan is a sociologist and art historian. She was a researcher in the Art History Program, Institute of Social Sciences, of Istanbul Technical University from 2001 to 2010. Tan was an Associate Professor and Vice-Dean in the Faculty of Architecture at Mardin Artuklu University from 2013 to 2017. In 2016, she was a visiting Associate Professor at PolyU School of Design of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A member of the Artıkişler Collective and The Silent University, Tan is involved in artistic and architectural projects that focus on urban conflict, territorial politics, and conditions of labor. She has participated in the Oslo Architecture Triennale, Oslo, Norway in 2016; Cyprus Pavilion, Venice Biennale of Architecture, Venice, Italy in 2016; Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey in 2015 and 2007; Biennale de Montréal, Montreal, Canada in 2014; and Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Lisbon, Portugal in 2013. She has co-directed films with artist Anton Vidokle on the future of art and society.
During 2019-2020, she is research fellow at the Center for the Arts, Design and Social Research, Inc. in Boston. Tan was invited as a research fellow in 2017-2018 by BAK-Utrecht for their theme “Propositions for Non-Fascist Living.” In 2012, as a research fellow with The Japan Foundation, she completed field research and video interviews about alternative activist and artist run spaces in Japan. In 2016, she received a Hong Kong Design Trust grant, which allowed her to do field research and video interviews in the fishing villages and infrastructure in the Pearl River Delta region of China.
Tan currently collaborates on alternative pedagogical modality, transversal methodology and threshold infrastructures with the Nordland School of Art & Film in Kabelvag, Norway and IASPIS in Stockholm, Sweden. She was the curator of Gardentopia: Cosmos of Ecologies and Dearchiving Dwelling (with Liam Gillick), Matera 2019 (Italy), from 2018-2020. She is a curatorial board member of IBA - Stuttgart 2027.
Tan has formed a research assembly in the Southeast region of Turkey at Mardin called “Arazi,” where she conducts action and research on labor, infrastructural mapping and means of geontologies with researchers, artists and architects from the region. More information can be found at: http://araziassembly.org.
Tan holds a Ph.D. in Art History on socially engaged art practices and locality/commons and tenured in contemporary art and architecture. In 2011, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Art, Culture and Technology program. Her teaching and territorial research combines academic and non-institutional structures to foster a methodology based on collective processes of knowledge production. She looks at forms of resistance, artistic methodologies, and theoretical perspectives to generate alliances and assemblies across disciplinary and territorial borders. Decolonization and necropolitics are key concepts with which to activate and discuss responses to the question of how entanglements of human and non-human can configure enactments on post-anthropocene living. For Tan, to decolonize is to go beyond the binary of colonizer/colonized and the resulting in infrastructural formations, and consider how the mechanisms of necropolitics must be included in the decolonial process. Furthermore, Tan employs anthropologist Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s term “geontology” to shift the definition of biopolitics to encompass non-life, including infrastructures and landscapes shaped by war and migration.