Performing Resistance: Contemporary American Performance-Activism

Pia Wiegmink


Deriving from the question whether performances have the capability of marking forms of public intervention and socio-political action this paper examines contemporary performance-activism. Thus, my article explores three artist-collectives who perform their social, political and economic critiques in the different realms of public space. All three collectives relate to Augusto Boal's method of an "invisible theater" which transforms public space into a public stage and in which the audience is not aware of being part of a theatrical situation. Regarding the artists presented in this paper, the actual notion of "public space" ranges from the streets of New York to national television and the virtual sphere of the internet.By comparing these three activist groups this paper explores on the one hand the liminal zone in which political protest and performance creatively collaborate, and on the other hand, how - within the scope of this interrelation of performance and activism - different realms of public space are utilized, subverted, and potentially transformed.

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