Deniz Kurtel is someone who understands that in the starkly man-made environment of New York, access to creative areas where locals can open up and feel free isn't some luxury — it's a psychological necessity. Even in the heart of trendy Williamsburg she has been able to stay one step ahead of developers and tourist traps by founding The Fifth House, a new artistic space for people to decompress and celebrate in the city that never sleeps. Whether she's working with Wolf + Lamb or making interactive light shows, Kurtel constantly dreams up, and then creates, new and amazing realities for others to get lost in.

How did you come to be an artist who creates such unique spaces?

My mother is an artist, so she was very influential on me, but my own artistic side didn’t really emerge in full form until I moved to New York. I’m from İzmir, Turkey, so the transition from a more Mediterranean setting to this big and dynamic city was an exciting shock.  
 

© 2017 5thouse | Brooklyn, New York

 

What is your goal for The Fifth House? 

The Fifth House is a building in Williamsburg where I’m working to take all of the artistic influences that I’ve gathered and concentrate them into one unique place. I love it because it’s already attracted a lot of passionate people who are good at taking action when they get a good idea.  

 

What do people use the space for when they rent it?

We have done everything — concerts, New Year's parties and even a few day events with pop-ups and cocktail bars. There have been a lot of crazy interesting moments in a really short amount of time. 
 

© 2017 5thouse | Brooklyn, New York

 

And how can people get in touch with the space?

We have members-only events where you can put in a request at marcynorth.com. If you want to rent the space for your own event, you can email contact@denizkurtel.com. More info also exists at 5thouse.com.

 

Was art and creating the The Fifth House part of your plan when you first came to New York?

Surprisingly, no. I studied economics and statistics, so I was on a completely different path. It wasn’t until I started meeting local musicians that I really fell in love with Brooklyn and became inspired to participate in the culture that was bubbling up there.   

 

What is one thing that you would never change about New York?

The diversity.  
 

© 2017 5thouse | Brooklyn, New York

 

What advice would you give someone who is visiting?

Sometimes the most obvious things you can do in New York aren’t going to be the things that you end up enjoying the most. 

 

So, for you, what came first: your installations or the music?  

At first I really concentrated on making environments for friends of mine to play shows in, which started by just playing with LED lights and evolved into programming light arrangements and building custom pieces. But then being so close to such a musical world was what let me develop my own sound and put together live shows that fused my music with my light work. That eventually led me to design a mobile installation that I took on tour across North America and Europe

 

Do you go back to Turkey often? Have you done any major projects there?

I do. Being there and feeling the emotions that it breathes out is really inspiring for me. My last project in Turkey was a light show illuminating Istanbul’s Galata Bridge. That was a really incredible experience. 
 

Deniz Kurtel

 

And you also spend plenty of time in Berlin too, right?

I always spend a big chunk of the year in Berlin. My main music studio is there, so that's where I like to record. I think the city is definitely a place where you can discover people who will find a connection to what you’re doing.  

 

After having already done so much, what’s an item that’s still on your bucket list?

Finishing my next album ☺ .


By Jesse Van Mouwerik

Berlin-based illustrator and columnist Jesse Van Mouwerik is an avid fan of art, whisky sours and being alive. When the aliens land, he will draw them a picture.