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 h and in h and 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 dem ands 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 Alex ander 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 underst anding. 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