Aesthetics of Resistance: An investigation into the performative politics of contemporary activism – as seen in 5 events in Scandinavia and beyond

Frans Jacobi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (artistic)

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This Ph.D. submission deals with contemporary demonstration culture and political activism, seen as performance through performance. It consists of both a practical and a theoretical part. These are intertwined on various levels of the project. My submission, however, is made up of the two following parts:

1: A textual part, divided into 8 parts. Each part contains a script, an analysis and a number of commentaries. In these, 8 moments in the recent history of activism in Scandinavia and beyond, are reflected. The 8 research performances at the core of this project are reflected here as well.

2: An exhibition based on visual and sonic footage from the 8 performances, here transformed into an installation that present an aesthetic introduction to the project as a whole. The exhibition will be an attempt at re-staging the visual and sonic material as a new sense-event.

The claim of ’Aesthetics of Resistance’ is that in recent examples of Direct Activism, politics are constituted by the aesthetic; as performance, form and style. This assumption is argued for by selecting 8 specific moments where this seems to be the case. These moments are chosen from 5 sequences of events, from a small incident in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2006 to the Egyptian uprising that gained global significance in 2011. The core part of the project is two sequences of confrontations between activists and authorities that both took place in Copenhagen, Denmark –The Youth House Movement 2007/08 and the large scale actions surrounding the UN Climate Summit COP15 in 2009 respectively.

Central to the project is an idea of ’thinking with the senses’. In order to facilitate this, an experimental set-up was created, where a sensorial reflection could be compared with an analytical interpretation of the topic in question. This experimental set-up was constituted by the two figures: The artist/researcher and the sense-event. These two figures intertwine and in various ways stage the gap between discursive and nondiscursive thinking that lies at the core of this project.

The use of performance is three-fold:

A: The specific moments chosen are interpreted as performance.

B: The ’thinking with the senses’ takes place as performance

C: As a kind of meta-reflection, the project is performing art-research by using an artistic medium as the research tool to investigate the chosen topics. The 8 research experiments were set up as performances.

These 8 performances took place at various locations in Denmark, Sweden and China in the period 2009 to 2012. The aesthetic reflection at the core of this project evolved in these senseevents. Video documentation of the performances is included here in the Appendix, but it is important to understand that neither this video documentation nor the texts in this part of my submission can give a full account of the sense-events. These accounts will per definition only be approximations. It is in this gap – or drama – between two levels of understanding this project revolves.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Malmö Art Academy
  • Maharaj, Sarat, Supervisor
  • Sandqvist, Gertrud, Supervisor
Award date2012 Dec 5
Place of PublicationMalmö
ISBN (Print)978-91-7473-405-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2012-12-05
Time: 11:00
Place: IAC, Bergsgatan 29, 214 22 Malmö

External reviewer(s)

Name: Doruff, Sher
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: Univeristy of Amsterdam


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Arts

Free keywords

  • Autonomous
  • Temporary
  • Active Time
  • Performance
  • Resistance
  • Politics
  • Aesthetics
  • Activism
  • Ungdomshuset
  • Cop15
  • Climate Justice
  • Action
  • Tahrir Square
  • Silent Stand
  • Revolution


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