Third Text was both an art-theoretical journal, at the forefront of rethinking the conceptual institutions of art from a postcolonial perspective, and a proposition -- an artistic proposition -- of an art-theoretical journal, at the forefront of rethinking the conceptual institutions of art from a postcolonial perspective. It was both theory in practice and the practice of theory, because, from the outset, it was conceived by founding editor Rasheed Araeen, as a fully-fledged, conceptual and collective artwork -- though there was never any explicit reason for its contributors and readers to acknowledge that, since there was nothing "arty" about it, nor would it have changed in any way had it not been an artistic proposition. Yet it was precisely this 1:1 scale that it instantiated which gave it the political and conceptual wherewithal to challenge not only the biases of the mainstream artworld (and to have been an effective tool in bringing about tangible shifts in representation) but more importantly to rethink art as a whole, its mode of being and operating in the world. By operating on this 1:1 scale, it deftly eluded a certain institutional capture -- never quite what it seemed, nor where it seemed. It was an improbable discursive war machine, emerging from the political struggle against institutionalized racism in the 1970s and 80s, but an exceptionally robust one, no doubt because it proved itself capable of reinventing itself time and again, rather than falling victim to its own success. It was Rasheed Araeen's artistic proposition, but as a collective platform it was of vital importance to so many of us -- for n.e.w.s. amongst others -- both in pointing a way beyond "the altruism of collaboration" as Araeen put it, creating the kind of "world extension" required to give meaning to an uneasy global conversation and helping to imagine new ways of repurposing artistic energies with a view to transformation.
Sadly, it has become necessary to say all these things about Third Text in the past tense. Third Text has been hijacked by its Board of Trustees, who in the name of neoliberal good governance and professionalization -- but scant regard for the critical and dissident politics that were the journal's hallmark and raison d'être -- literally locked Rasheed Araeen out of the offices and usurped full editorial and administrative control.