Aesthetics of Activism and Activist Aesthetics

Tiina Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review

Abstract

In the 2000s, Sweden experienced a veritable explosion of feminist performance. Although feminist actions, theatre, shows and performance existed previously, feminist events with a distinct performance approach have emerged strongly in the current decade. Feminist culture festivals are held in rapid succession, and feminist performance, dance and theatre occasionally attract broader audiences. This popularization of feminist performing arts is related to the lively feminist activism in Sweden.
In this paper, I will discuss a few examples of contemporary feminist performance in Sweden. Both thematically and in activist terms, contemporary Swedish feminist performing arts represent continuity in feminist politics and performance. They focus on direct action, mixing styles and genres in performance-inspired events, but also utilizing the more text-based traditions of theatre when required. It is unequivocal, however, that performance as a genre has had a strong impact on contemporary feminist theatre in Sweden. At feminist events feminist defense is mixed with spoken word poetry, queer theatre, music, dance, circus and elements of popular culture with various impromptu pranks and tricks thrown in.
Performance is a hard-to-define live act that is a form of performing art but not necessarily linked to the skills or traditions of the stage. As a genre, performance is effective for fast, improvised and spectacular appearances, and is rooted in the early modernist events, 1960s happenings and other multi-disciplinary art forms. Performance is not necessarily tied to the skills or traditions of theatrical art. Performance is a tumbling place for encounters between political activism, autobiography, mass-culture, ritual body art and the “ordinary” commonplace. One significant trait is the multiple voices, the lack of hierarchic components in the performance. Instead, performance strives to attain simultaneousness, a concurrent effect that the audience is free to structure and evaluate for itself.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009
EventRegulated Liberties: Negotiating Freedom in Arts, Culture and Media. 1st Rethinking Arts Studies (REARS) Conference - School of Art Studies, University of Turku, Finland
Duration: 2009 Aug 202009 Aug 22

Conference

ConferenceRegulated Liberties: Negotiating Freedom in Arts, Culture and Media. 1st Rethinking Arts Studies (REARS) Conference
Country/TerritoryFinland
CitySchool of Art Studies, University of Turku
Period2009/08/202009/08/22

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Gender Studies

Keywords

  • anti-racism
  • queer
  • gender
  • intersecttionality
  • feminist activism
  • feminist performance

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