Introduction: Performances of Resistance/Resisting Performance

Helena Grehan


When I first came across Jodi Dean’s brief discussion about art in her book The Communist HorizonI was both excited and enervated. I wanted to shout ‘go away, you are wrong’ but at the same time I had an unsettling sense that there was (potentially) some truth in her observations. Dean argues that the aesthetic focus

disconnects politics from the organized struggle of working people, making politics into what spectators see. Artistic products, whether actual commodities or commodified experiences, thereby buttress capital as they circulate political affects while displacing
political struggles from the streets to the galleries. Spectators can pay (or donate) to feel radical without having to get their hands dirty. The dominant class retains its position and the contradiction between this class and the rest of us doesn’t make itself felt as such. (Dean, 2012: 13–14)

Of course the truth of the matter is contingent—it depends on what kind of art we are talking about, where we are situated (geographically, politically and culturally) and how we as spectators, viewers, participants or consumers choose to respond in each situation. So after a great deal of somewhat agitated thinking I decided that instead of shouting the best way to think through
Dean’s provocation was to utilise these ideas as the basis for a Call for Papers for Performance Paradigm. I reasoned that as this would be our 10th anniversary issue what better way to celebrate this milestone than to invite scholars and artists to think about and respond to Dean’s challenge to the value of art in the 21st century.

Full Text:



Dean, Jodi. The Communist Horizon (London: Verso, 2012)


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