The cumulative effect of dozens of groups transforming regional culture and daily life along the lines of aesthetic avant-gardes could well prepare the majority to take control of their lives —Katsiaficas 230.
I open with this comment from George Katsiaficas as it gestures toward the potential of a cultural aesthetic trajectory often relegated to the peripheries of political conver- sation. Why this relegation occurs is unclear: perhaps it is because creative inter- ventions in the realm of politics have a tendency to be dismissed as frivolous. Or perhaps it is because the political velocities within aesthetic strategizing have long been overshadowed by the canonization of artistic insurrection. Whatever the rea- sons, closer examination reveals a situation quite to the contrary. Possibly even pre- ceding the avant-gardes, there has been a distinctly militant political flair to specific modalities of aesthetic and performative intervention.
This essay examines one such modality, which I will refer to as a “performative encounter,” through two movements, the Berlin Dadaists (1918–1923) and the Situationist International (1957–1972), and some of the German Umsonst (for free) campaigns (2003–). It does so in order to illuminate the political potential that such cre- ative encounters instantiate by opening up new lines of communication and participation.
Kanngieser, A 2010 Breaking out of the specialist “ghetto”: performative encounters as participatory praxis in radical politics. Thamyris/ Intersecting: Place, Sex and Race 21: 115–136