The e-journal Red Thread, initiated by the curatorial collective WHW and Osman Kavala in 2009, is an active network and platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration between artists, curators, social theorists and cultural operators from the Balkans, Middle East, Caucasus, North Africa, and beyond, offering a peripheral view-point on socially engaged art and theory that challenges the predominance of Western narratives in the official art histories and exhibition making, as well as the dominant modes of socio-political theory application.
The topic of the 5th issue, edited by Vladimir Jerić Vlidi and Jelena Vesić, entitled Alt-Truths and Insta-Realities: The Psychopolitics of the Contemporary Right, is the right-wing use of various media. The global upsurge of the so-called alt-right during the previous decade of capitalist crisis ushered in an era of toxic propaganda, post-truth politics and attacks on systematic rational knowledge, as well as on modern emancipatory projects, especially leftist ones. The combination of essays and interviews in the current issue of Red Thread offers critical insights into fields of art, media and society that are polluted by the contemporary right-wing discourse.
Jonas Staal tackles the propagandist-artistic role of Steve Bannon by critically dismantling the alt-right, retro-futurist mythology of his “documentaries”. Jelena Vesić discusses appropriation and reactionary détournement deployed in the Uncensored Lies exhibition, organized by the press service of the Serbian ruling party, as an example of passive-aggressive propaganda and pathetic dictatorship. Hazal Özvarış’s text digs deeply into the rapid media transformation in Turkey during two decades, from changes in ownership, funding and editorial processes to multiple instances of violence against journalists. Feyza Akınerdem and Nükhet Sirman write about the right-wing turn-around in Turkey through telenovelas that mirror changes in the social atmosphere, in which “it is not anymore about the struggle between good and evil, but about the never-ending contest for power.” Ana Teixeira Pinto tackles meme magic and ‘shitposting’ as ways of turning fiction into fact by what she terms paranoid ideation, a “mix of fantasies of omnipotence and perceived vulnerability” that has led to the now widespread belief in conspiracy theories. Ahmet Ersoy analyzes the complex machinery of capitalism that generates instant realities, by retracing Walter Benjamin’s critique of the Nazi regime’s aestheticization of politics. Geert Lovink’s “Sad by Design,” a chapter from his eponymous new book, represents a powerful journey through the effects of the particular design, aesthetics and functionality of today’s digital social networks. An interview with Vilém Flusser (from 1988) and Raja Shehadeh about the concept of sumud as a form of peaceful resistance completes the issue.
The vibrant and captivating contents of this e-journal have recently been enriched by video interviews offering more immediate and lively insights into the journal’s topics.