Red Thread is a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing in social and cultural theory.
The project Red Thread is envisioned as an active network and platform for exchange of knowledge and collaboration of artists, curators, social scientists, theorists and cultural operators from the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa, and beyond. It aims to create and widely disseminate new knowledge about paradigmatic socially engaged art practices in a wide geopolitical context, thus challenging the predominance of Western narratives in official art histories and exhibition making. Through initiating research, meetings, panel discussions and an active online site for exploring both historical and contemporary approaches that deepen and challenge broader relations of art and society, Red Thread intends to reopen the issues of joint modernist legacies and histories between various so-called “marginal” regions, and attempts to create new approaches to deal with questions of auto-histories, self-positioning and reinterpretation of art history.
The title of the project indicates a critical cultural and artistic engagement that has been present in the peripheral zones of the European modernistic project in different conceptual manifestations since the 1960s, when the crisis of the project of Western monolith high modernism in its relation to ideas of social progress became apparent. Metaphorical meaning of the expression ‘red thread’ suggests not only way out of labyrinth, but also a fragile, elastic link between different intellectual, social and artistic experimentations that share a desire for social change and the active role of culture and art in this process.
Red Thread is conceived as a possibility for starting a long-term communication and establishing new international platforms for artists and cultural workers from the regions considered to be part of supposedly shrinking but still corporeally very real geographical margins. Even if today one feels that there is no region excluded from the international art circuit, there still remains the issue of control, the unresolved and continuing play of inclusion and exclusion. In that respect, focusing primarily on regions of the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and North Africa, the project is conceived as an active site for rethinking the questions of production, definition, and presentation of the artwork and the artists’ identity in the globalized (art)world. It will explore the rules of conduct established in the Western art system, and question how the circulation and reception of information is regulated and how we can (and can we really) challenge it.
All texts published in the Red Thread e-journal will be available in English and Turkish, as well as in the original language in which they were written. In addition to new contributions, each issue of the e-journal will contain a number of already existing texts from the region that were previously available only in their original language and thus inaccessible for a wider international audience.
Red Thread is initiated by WHW (what, how and for whom) and Osman Kavala in 2009 as part of 11th Istanbul Biennial.
Meltem Ahıska, Ruben Arevshatyan, Erden Kosova, Vladimir Jerić Vlidi, Jelena Vesić, Georg Schöllhammer, Zeyno Pekünlü, Banu Karaca, Balca Ergener
Aslı Çetinkaya, Mert Sarısu