Marian van der Zwaan’s site-specific installation Red String, developed with the support of Amnesty International in Portugal, arrives at Pro Arts from Europe, as part of an international tour including site-specific installations in the Netherlands, Lithuania, Portugal and South Africa.

Five kilometers of continuous red string will be threaded and woven through the interior and the exterior of Pro Arts, as well as the adjacent Kahn’s Alley and the Rotunda Building, as a symbolic gesture that prompts critical dialogue on issues surrounding race and ethnic discrimination. We are all too aware of the ways in which there is a shamefully long tradition in the Western society to de-humanize the other. We, the citizens of a global society are also complicit and tangled in this narrative, which perpetuates pain and hostility towards our brothers and sisters.

The Red String installation at Pro Arts will also include a collection of powerful audio testimonials from youth and adults, living in Oakland, who have suffered exclusion, humiliation, violence and even death because of their race, ethnicity, background and culture.

The Opening Reception of Red String on December 2nd at Pro Arts, will feature a screening of an excerpt from the opera, Nubian Word for Flowers. In Pauline Oliveros’ (music & sound design) and Ione’s (story & libretto) opera Nubian Word for Flowers, the long and complex history of exploitation of Egyptian and Sudanese cultures by British and European colonialists is symbolized by super star of war and brilliant botanist Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener of Khartoum, often referred to in his time as “K of K”. The Nubian Word for Flowers is developed in collaboration with an international cast comprising American, Egyptian and European artists.


Opening Reception & Artist Talk: Friday, December 2, 6 – 9 pm

About the Artist: Marian van der Zwaan’s artistic practice focuses on highlighting the global endemic issues of racism and gender discrimination. Through a combination of research and various interview processes with victims and activists, van der Zwaan exposes social issues that are both local and global. van der Zwaan’s has worked with various communities internationally, but her activism predominately focuses on elevating the voice of disfranchised youth. van der Zwaan has received international support from Amnesty International, United Nations, UNESCO and various governmental support. van der Zwaan lives and works in Torres Vedras, Portugal.

This project is supported in part by the City of Oakland Public Art Program, Californians for Justice, Bay Peace and the Rotunda Partners II, LLC.


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