Accepted Paper:

Subversion through performance: Performative activism in London (2010-2011)  

Author:

Paula Serafini

Paper short abstract:

The focus of this paper will be the staging of performance-like actions by activist groups in the context of the demonstrations against austerity cuts in London from November 2010 to the present.

Paper long abstract:

This particular moment in history defined by war, an international economic crisis, a wave of uprising movements across the globe, and a dependence on the media for both activist strategies and government control, has called for new creative tactics in activism, which as a consequence deserve updated forms of interdisciplinary analysis.

The focus of this paper will be the staging of performance-like actions by activist groups in the context of the demonstrations against austerity cuts in London from November 2010 to the present. In this case, given that the type of actions I chose to study incorporate elements and procedures from performance art, I will look at them from a perspective that includes an aesthetic appraisal. This study will therefore begin by providing a theoretical background on politically engaged art and on the character of performance, in order to define the aesthetic categories that will be employed throughout the case analyses. This will be followed by examples from recent activist groups and social movements that have been of influence and acted as precedents, and finally the case analyses of actions by three London based activist groups: UK Uncut, Arts Against Cuts and University for Strategic Optimism.

My objective will be to provide a complete analysis that will generate a better understanding of current activist strategies in London, and also contribute to a general theory of performative activism.

Panel P04
Beyond the Arab Spring: the aesthetics and poetics of popular revolt and protest