Issue 2


Issue 2

SWEET 60s      

Editor’s Note

This issue is the product of a collaboration between Red Thread e-journal and SWEET 60s project. Red Thread has provided a theoretical platform for SWEET 60s, a long term experimental, curatorial, scientific and educational research project that investigates the hidden territories of the revolutionary period of the 1960s through contemporary artistic and theoretical perspectives, which has developed around itself a wide international network of interested and cooperating individuals and institutions.

The curatorial and artistic focus of SWEET 60s lies on “post ideological societies” (in post-Soviet, post socialist, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, West and Central Asian as well as North African countries and in a second phase in China and Latin America), in making a comparative analysis and contextualizing the historical developments in the arts, culture and societies of the 60s and 70s and researching their subsequent effects on contemporary socio-political and cultural situations.

The project mainly concentrates on the still underexposed global cultural shift in the 60s and its effects in countries that were omitted in the historical explorations of that particular revolutionary period; situations that were developing beyond the, so to say, “Prague Line.” The general perception of the 60s period is still associated with Western culture and with the formal fragmented replications of Western processes in the “peripheries” and “outskirts.”

Despite the differences in their geopolitical and sociocultural contexts, the political, social and cultural processes ongoing in countries in West Asia, the Middle East, the Southern Caucasus and North Africa (including the Arab world) since the mid 60s were tightly interconnected with each other and they played a momentous role in shaping subsequent developments on both a regional and a global scale. The effects and the logic of the political, social and cultural paradigms and constructs that were established in that period can still be traced today when we also witness the culturalisation and aesthetization of this epoch of “rebellious euphoria.”

The project explores the differences and similarities of that turbulent period in the aforementioned countries through a comparative analysis of the important (from the contemporary artistic or critical points of view) symbols, expressions, and developments in the social, cultural, political and economical fields (like social/political movements, significant works and trends in architecture, literature, visual arts, cinema, pop culture, mass culture, subcultures, etc…).

In the early 60s, a hopeful spirit of modernism had moved into the private ateliers in many art-scapes that were then conceived as peripheral or provincial. In the so called Soviet Block, the existential fears risen in the period of the Stalinist dictate of realism had already elicited initial counter-reactions after 1956, leading to a reenactment of extreme subjectivism. In the totalitarian and colonial art-scapes of the Arab world and North and Central Africa as well as West and Central Asia, new groups and positions that emerged joined an international artistic spirit of late modernist universalism and were able to feel accepted again in the international canon with their kinetic objects, light works, and their structural-geometric abstractions. In the second postwar decade, a generation of neo-constructivist artists on both sides of the Iron Curtain and the former colonies had formed a kind of international association.

During these years, the loosening of the repressive climate created more freedom regarding artistic means of expression – and also enabled a new approach to aesthetic work. In a way, neo-constructive modernism, the new abstraction, functioned not only as a sign of the end of an era, but also a kind of repression machine: the new modernism was also a substitute for the errors and oversights of fordism and socialism and their models of social modernization; it criticized mass culture and its everyday objects, placed artistic work in an abstract space of work on the form, and was the vanishing point of the real world of the Cold War. The era of the neo-avant-gardes left their traces around the globe. Yet it is still the neo-avant-gardes of the centers that have been canonized.

In contrast to the currently accepted master narratives and historical canons, the project considers the processes of the 60s not as an eruption of a volcano generating echoes in the rest of the world, but as a general socio-cultural, political, economical condition which evolved in a global context and determined the development of parallel modernities interrelated with the development of diverse sociopolitical and cultural radical processes in every part of the world.

Editors: Georg Schöllhammer and Ruben Arevshatyan

Technical Assistance: Armanc Yıldız

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In this issue

Keti Chukhrov

The Soviet 60s: Just Before the End of the Project

The Soviet 60s represent a very contradictory thesaurus of narratives. On the one hand, this was a period of the famous Thaw and of political expectations about the Soviet utopia's breakthrough. On the other hand, the 60s prove to be a decade of harsh disillusions ending up with the Prague Spring of 1968 and entailing the recession of democratic revival and cultural development.

Didem Pekün

Years of Fire and Cinders

The historical events that effected Tülay German’s life are still echoing in many common experiences. Compulsory immigration decisions due to political ideas, ideological faith in individual and collective engagement, and the erasure of collective memory in time.

Toni Maraini

Black Sun of Renewal

The magazine Souffles made an important contribution to modern Moroccan culture in the 60s. The impact of its literary, artistic, and cultural production were of the greatest importance.

Yuliya Sorokina, Ulan Djaparov

Turning to the Experience of the 60s: A Discussion between Yuliya Sorokina (Almaty) and Ulan Djaparov (Bishkek)

Our parent's generation succeeded in finding the nerve of local modernity. All these people, they were on the border of the discovery. That international context was suddenly transformed into something new with local nuances and without any marginality. Later this was lost and now it is going to be trampled down.

Ruben Arevshatyan

Blank Zones in Collective Memory or the Transformation of Yerevan`s Urban Space in the 60s

Reflecting on the Soviet 60s nowadays, we are dealing with such an enormous amount of information, images, personages and narratives as well as their interpretations that (both during the Soviet and post-Soviet times) there have been only few subtle reconsiderations connected with changes in the political and cultural paradigm.

Ceren Ünlü

Interview with Nadire Mater

Based on interviews, Nadire Mater's book "Sokak Güzeldir: 68'de Ne Oldu?" [Street is Beautiful: What Happened in 68?] (Metis, 2009) attempts to give a realistic account of the year 1968 in Turkey, and deals not only with Turkey's 68, but also with that of the world.

Sohrab Mahdavi

Narratives of the 60s

For the Iranian visual artist of the decade the main preoccupation was always two pronged: How to be modern in an age that demanded non-conformity, rebelliousness, and breaking away from tradition, and how to preserve a distinct identity as the only way to lessen the pressure of measuring up to an ideal of Western art whose site of origin was always elsewhere.

Olga Bryukhovetska

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About (Ukrainian) Nationalism, But Were Afraid to Ask Lenin

A few years ago a syndicated TV project The Great Ukrainians was aired at one of the national channels. The idea of the project was very simple: the whole nation, which was represented by a TV-audience, elected its most important historical figures.

Matko Meštrović

Scientification as a Condition for Humanization

Modern scientific socialism has already been acquiring this knowledge of the need to scientifically found all social movements and transformations, which has always been its powerful weapon.

Hrach Bayadyan

The Contradictory 60s: Empire and Cultural Resistance

During the entire 19th century, Russia's relations with Turkey, often on the battlefield, were vital for the former. This was a time when the Russians sought to redefine their identity using Western concepts, to present themselves as a modernizing nation in the Western sense, as a country that was a part of Europe.

Daho Djerbal

The Sweet 60s: Between the Liberation of Peoples and the Liberty of Individuals, or the Difficult Representation of the Self

According to psychologists and psychoanalysts who have worked on colonial trauma and its consequences, colonial violence and the diverse forms of its heritage are defined by "the disappropriation, the deprivation of one's own (language, history and culture)".

Emin Alper

1968: Global or Local?

We can speak of three major historical moments when revolutionary movements became global by transcending national borders in unexpected ways: 1848, 1968, and 1989.

Branislav Dimitrijević

“It is Not Future That Always Comes After” (Some reflections on the project “Political Practices of (Post-) Yugoslav Art”)

As there is no interest within the university system to explore SFRY, it took a group of independent organisations (dealing with contemporary art and critical theory) to initiate a large scale project for re-thinking the "political practices of (post-)Yugoslav art.".

Orhan Koçak

Melih Cevdet Anday: After The Second New

Yaşantı and deneyim - these two words, often used interchangeably to mean "experience," are terms which signaled a concept quite new to Turkish culture. Until recently, up until the 1950s, Turks did not have experience; they had life as flux [hayat] or a predestined term [ömür].

Klaus Ronneberger, Georg Schöllhammer

Monumental and Minimal Space: Soviet Modernism in Architecture and Urban Planning. An introduction

While Russian Constructivism and Stalinist architecture are familiar enough to an interested public in Austria, knowledge of Soviet Modernism in the postwar period is still limited. This applies especially to urban planning in peripheral regions.

Red Thread Editorial Board

Issue 2 – Editor’s note

The project mainly concentrates on the still underexposed global cultural shift in the 60s and its effects in countries that were omitted in the historical explorations of that particular revolutionary period; situations that were developing beyond the, so to say, “Prague Line.”