Alegría rebelde and performance (c)art: A comparative (auto)ethnography of contemporary absurd performance practice amongst activists and socially committed artists in Buenos Aires and New York City

Sillitoe, Hugh (2020) Alegría rebelde and performance (c)art: A comparative (auto)ethnography of contemporary absurd performance practice amongst activists and socially committed artists in Buenos Aires and New York City. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[img]
Preview
PDF
Download (25MB) | Preview

Abstract

This is an interdisciplinary study of contemporary absurd performance practice amongst activists and socially committed artists in Buenos Aires and New York City primarily informed by sixteen months of comparative ethnographic fieldwork. It centrally seeks to identify the motivations that drive different absurd performance practices amongst activists and socially committed artists across different socio-political contexts.

Following a brief, signposting introduction and outline of the key collectives worked with during fieldwork, this thesis begins with a consideration of how to define ‘the absurd’ and ‘absurd performance’. The new theoretical framework of pragmatic absurdo-anarchism is proposed via combined contemplation of absurdist metaphysical philosophy and anarchist political philosophy in continual conversation with both my personal autoethnographic performance experimentation and reflection upon my ethnographic observations of others in Buenos Aires and New York City. From here, a new definition of absurd performance is outlined centering upon exaggerated counter-normative transgression. Elaborating upon the insights of growing literature concerning direct ‘tactical performance’ (Bogad, 2016a; Shepard, 2011; Duncombe, 2016) in relation to my ethnographic data, the counterpoint of more oblique supra-tactical performance is conceptualized, as is a spectrum of (supra)tactical absurd performance possibilities between these two ideal types.

An account of my comparative ethnographic methodology and how it contributes fresh insight to the study of this topic and to Performance Studies more broadly is followed by a distillation of the key cultural and political characteristics of Buenos Aires and New York City that were observed to be influential upon absurd performance practices.

Reporting and analysis of ethnographic data is then split into two primary sections. The first substantiates earlier theoretical claims by exploring the ideological underpinnings of different (supra)tactical orientations of absurd performance between those defining as activists and those defining as artists in each fieldsite. The second illustrates how the particular socio-political histories and actualities of Buenos Aires and New York City differently restrict and enable different forms of absurd performance. Here the need is outlined for further cross-cultural research on this topic in order to continue to fill the gaps in knowledge left behind by the ethnocentric over-concentration on Western activist case studies within the currently dominant academic literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: absurd, absurdist, absurdism, dada, dadaism, punk, anarchist, anarchism, pragmatic absurdo-anarchism, ethnography, autoethnography, New York City, Buenos Aires, activism, artivism, performance art, socially committed art
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts
College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanaties Research Council
Supervisor's Name: Lavery, Professor Carl and Greer, Dr Stephen and Gorringe, Dr Hugo
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Dr Hugh Sillitoe
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81326
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 09:50
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 16:37
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81326

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item