Issue 3 – Editor’s Note

The third issue of the Red Thread e-journal comprises of critical case studies, essays, and interviews that come from the region the journal has been focusing on from its inception, and that discuss the different forms of struggle devised by socialities that can be considered “disprivileged” in economic, social and political terms and the intricate and usually complex relationship of artistic and activist practices to these groups. These muted groups which are either marginalized, displaced, or fragmented through state policies hand in hand with globalized capitalist transformations have their own particular strategies of survival and resistance against dominant politics of visibility and representation, as well as desires and fears that both disconnect them from and connect them to wider scale changes in urban contexts. Our aim in preparing this issue has been to interrogate a set of interrelated questions at that interval: in-between national/transnational spaces of capital and localities of practice, in-between controlled public spaces and public acts, in-between different forms of gentrification and emerging forms of belonging, in-between memory and counter-memory; in other words, in-between forced abstractions and dispersed yet novel materializations.

We find the focus on the interval especially productive. The interval exists in-between visibility and invisibility. Visibility and invisibility are usually set opposed to each other, the former implying a more democratic relationship to the community granted visibility. However, in neoliberal times, invisibility inheres in the proliferating forms of visibility sustained by the entrenched yet virtual positions of capital. Dispriviliged groups are either turned into objects endorsing research and policy-making, or they are captured within the dominant tropes of representation in the media for visual consumption and surveillance, reminding one the concept of “poverty porn.” In both cases they are abstracted from their locality, political efficacy and demands for equality. “What is politics?” then becomes a crucial question for artistic and activist practices that aim to go beyond simply pursuing policies with regard to producing more visibility. We consider Rancière’s concept of equality inspiring for articulating politics. For Rancière, radically different from policy that concerns governing and creating community consent, and which relies on the distribution of shares and the hierarchy of places and functions, the politics of “equality consists of a set of practices guided by the supposition that everyone is equal and by the attempt to verify this supposition. The proper name for this set of practices remains emancipation” (“Politics, Identification, and Subjectivization”, October , 61, 1992, p. 58). Rancière claims that the process of equality is a process of difference, but difference does not mean confrontation of different identities. The enactment of equality is not the enactment of the self, of the attributes or properties of the community in question, but belongs to a particular topos of an argument -an interval: “The place of a political subject is an interval or a gap: being together to the extent that we are in between-between names, identities, cultures, and so on” (p.62).

The contributions to this volume attempt, in different ways and through particular cases, first to critically delineate the intervals in the face of current policies and transformations, and also dwell on the possibilities these intervals present for politics. They seek ways to pierce the “rubber wall” in Alexander Kluge’s terms, produced by the eradication of common spaces of encounter in politics and that efface the addressees of politics. The cases are particular yet comparable. It is worth the comparison for thinking about new political possibilities that can be embraced particularly by art, activism and interval modalities that are articulated between these two fields -with a call for modesty, persistence and readiness to withdraw in relating to the socialities they interact with (as exemplified in many of the contributions to this edition). Jean Francois Pérouse has said in our roundtable discussion which was part of an effort for collective thinking with potential authors on this issue: “in one way or the other art takes on the responsibility of making sense of our lives, but there are different practices of making sense; maybe from here we can think about a common understanding. Not one sided, like ‘I will tell you what happiness is,’ but in a reciprocal way.”

Cover Image:

‘Çocukların dilinde Zaferin adı’ (The name of Victory in children’s language), one-act operetta, 2010, Gülsuyu-Gülensu
Etcetera… (Federico Zukerfeld, Loreto Garin Guzman)
Courtesy: Cultural Agencies and Etcetera Archives

More from this issue
Haydar Darıcı

Violence and Freedom: Politics of Kurdish Children – Part I

This article provides an analysis of the experiences of violence and freedom of Kurdish children in Adana's Gündoğan neighborhood populated mostly with victims of forced migration.

Haydar Darıcı

Violence and Freedom: Politics of Kurdish Children – Part II

Evidently the constant rendition of violence stories is linked to experiences in urban life. Victims of forced migration were subject to blatant state violence.

Vladan Jeremić, Rena Rädle

Antiziganism and Class Racism in Europe

The Roma have a long history of migrations that repeatedly brought repression to their people over the centuries. European countries began introducing laws against migrating peoples (i.e. nomads, travelers) in the mid-fifteenth century.

Deniz Yonucu

Capitalism, Desperation and Urgency

At a time when squatter neighborhoods were regarded as the biggest obstacle before urban development by the urban elite in Turkey, and residents of squatter houses and thus the urban working class were regarded as "backward" villagers, workers from both Hasköy and Güzeltepe earned respectability due to their working class identities.

Suzana Millevska

Artistic and Theoretical Strategies Challenging Racism

During the last several years in my academic research projects and in my curatorial practice, I addressed artistic research and production dealing with one extremely urgent issue: the racialised relations in our contemporary society along with their historical and epistemological genealogy.

Eduard Freudmann, Ivana Marjanović

Uglyville: A Contention of Anti-Romaism in Europe

From July 2008 to July 2009, Serbia held the Roma Decade's presidency. During this year, one would expect Serbia to make serious efforts towards improving the discriminated position of Roma and decreasing the effects of a policy of anti-Romaism that has lasted for centuries in the region.

Balca Ergener, Asena Günal, Erden Kosova

An Interview with Pelin Demireli, Neşe Ozan and İlhan Sayın about Their Solidarity Work with Sulukule Residents

Together with Neşe Ozan, Pelin Demireli and İlhan Sayın, who continue to show solidarity with the people of Sulukule after its demolition, we have discussed working with an impoverished community victim of urban transformation, the needs of the community, its relations to the state, the state's view of them, and the shared experiences of production.

Meltem Ahıska, Zafer Yenal

Poverty and Citizenship between “Bare Life” and the “Political”: The Case of Kavakpınar in Istanbul

The political-practical and conceptual aspects of "poverty" and their implications for discussions on "citizenship" in Turkey constitute the subject matter of this study.

Angela Harutyunyan

When Matter Becomes Cultural Politics: Traps of Liberalism in the Tenth Sharjah Art Biennial

In the core of cultural politics is ultimately the act of naming. In fact, cultural politics itself is nothing but a negotiation of language, assignment of concepts, construction of frames as well as demarcation of the boundaries of what is to be included and what is to be left excluded from discourse.

Meltem Ahıska

Monsters That Remember: Tracing the Story of the Workers’ Monument in Tophane, İstanbul – Part III

Drawing on the previous section, I argue that the contemporary discussion about Turkey's monuments that turn into monsters cannot be separated from the field of the state practice of erecting Atatürk monuments all over the country since the late 1920s.

Meltem Ahıska

Monsters That Remember: Tracing the Story of the Workers’ Monument in Tophane, İstanbul – Part II

I would argue that the concept of artificial-natural may be illuminating for understanding how the modern state commands or attempts to command memory.

Meltem Ahıska

Monsters That Remember: Tracing the Story of the Workers’ Monument in Tophane, İstanbul – Part I

Monuments have been erected with a claim to embody the will to remember; yet, paradoxically, they have mostly served to reify the present as a fulfilled moment of arrival, canceling the need to re-find and remember the past in the present. In other words, they contribute to the closure of the past as a dead body.

Jelena Vesić

Look for New Partisans: A Conversation with the Authors of the Video ‘Partisan Songspiel. Belgrade Story’

A conversation with Chto Delat (Dmitry Vilensky) and Biro Belgrade (Vladan Jeremić & Rena Rädle), the authors of the video Partisan Songspiel. Belgrade Story where we discuss contemporary anti-fascist struggles, particularist politics and historical consciousness.

Oda Projesi, Erdoğan Yıldız

On Cultural Agencies and Its Possible Effects

Hereby we present a conversation where Erdoğan Yıldız, who has been a resident of Istanbul's Gülsuyu-Gülensu neighborhood for 28 years and a social and political activist in various dissident urban movements, and members of the artist collective Oda Projesi, who took part in the Cultural Agencies project realized in the same neighborhood from 2009-2010, reflect on their common experiences.

Ha Za Vu Zu, Yeni Sinemacılar

Seventh Man

This project was realized in collaboration with Ha Za Vu Zu and Yeni Sinemacılar art collectives.

Yaşar Adnan Adanalı

De-spatialized Space as Neoliberal Utopia: Gentrified İstiklal Street and Commercialized Urban Spaces

Today İstanbul ranks seventh among world cities in the number of foreign visitors and international meetings it hosts and fifth in the number of dollar millionaires living within its premises.

Meltem Ahıska, Erden Kosova

An Interview with Erbay Yucak about Bir Umut Association

Before the 1999 Marmara Earthquake we were individual people undertaking this sort of solidarity efforts. We had several though not major attempts of continuing this exercise of solidarity in the form of an association, foundation or a similar initiative.

Banu Karaca

When Duty Calls…: Questions of Sensitivity and Responsibility in Light of the Tophane Events

On the evening of September 21, 2010 the Tophane Art Walk, a coordinated series of exhibition openings centering in large part along Boğazkesen Street in Istanbul, marked the beginning of the art season after the summer break. Shortly after 8pm, a mob of around 20-40 people attacked the galleries and their visitors one by one, undisturbed by the police for the best part of around 30 minutes, if not longer.