PPARG & Theatre and Performance Research Groups – research seminar 25 October 2017

La Rochelle Spectacle. August 1976

Engineering the imagination, creating spaces of appearance: political performativity and Welfare State International

Dr. Gillian Whiteley (School of Arts, English & Drama)

12 noon Wednesday 25 October Loughborough University Edward Barnsley 63.1.07

Emerging from the radical politics of 1968, Welfare State International, a nomadic collective of individual artists, musicians, performers and engineers, pioneered the idea of temporary site-specific multi-media performance, celebratory feasting and new forms of processional art. Their work ranged from making community films and large-scale spectacles such as Parliament in Flames to small-scale interventions with people on housing estates, workplaces, schools and prisons.  For almost forty years, they continued to develop alternative models of participative art amongst a diverse range of communities and locations, from Burnely to Barrow-in-Furness to Snake Island, Toronto.  This talk will address the transient nature and extent of WSI’s political performativity, engaging with the idea that they facilitated what Judith Butler refers to as ‘spaces of appearance’ and, in doing so, potentially created incipient and fugitive moments of political autonomy, resistance and dissent.

Dr Gillian Whiteley is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, coordinator of  Politicized Practice Research Group, coorganiser of RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt (RaRa). Recent work includes essays in Body, Space, Technology Journal (2016) and J. Bull and G. Saunders (eds) British Theatre Companies: From Fringe to Mainstream, (Methuen, 2016). She is a member of the improvising collective, Alchemy/Schmalchemy and is currently working on a project and edited book Art, Politics and the Pamphleteer for the RaRa series for Bloomsbury. www.bricolagekitchen.com

Image: Welfare State International, Parliament in Flames, Burnley 1973. Photo: Daniel Meadows

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