Although the primary meaning of the term ‘clan’ is a close-knit group of families who share a common ancestry, it can also refer to a closed community made up of people who provide a support system for each other. To become a member, you must either be born or admitted into the clan. Although often seen as hermetic, a clan may always accept newcomers; while some groups might be more exclusive, others are more open. But what might the criteria be for joining the clan? Is there a selection process or an initiation ritual or might we be accepted right away? In all cases, two conditions are essential to keeping a clan together: there must be a climate of trust and the binding core must remain in place. Should either of these prerequisites come under threat, expulsion from the clan is an option.
Clandestinity, destiny and the clan are closely interlinked. Indeed, the mutual trust that resides within a clan is conducive to secrecy. The clan may adopt a clandestine attitude with regard to its activities, be they illicit or benevolent (for example, guerrilla gardening or anonymous acts of kindness). Clan members may also take this approach in order to protect their own, or simply to enjoy the privilege of possessing insider information. As for the support that these unions can offer, clans can direct our future actions and allow us to realize our projects. The strength found in numbers can be used to manifest a common vision (think of cooperatives, activist groups or political parties). On the other hand, irregular situations may be hidden from the clan to avoid ostracization and maintain our place on a predetermined path. We can also remove ourselves from the group, and sometimes have to, to change the course of our destiny (for family, immigration, or careers, for example).
Clans are social units that exist all over the world. We all belong to a clan in one shape or form (whether it sees itself that way or not) be it family, a friendship circle, a cultural group, a social class, a special interest/sports/social club, a neighbourhood, a town, or a nation. In the art world, we gather in collectives, shared studios, professional associations and artist-run centres. There are also a variety of arts and crafts clubs. In an era of individualism, how does our need to belong counteract our tendency to follow this egocentric trend? What pushes us to congregate under a common banner? While a certain rivalry may exist between different clans, what happens when two seemingly disparate clans come together? In the arts, this can happen through inclusion, collaboration or pluri/trans/interdisciplinary practices.