‘Doing’ Politics within ‘Citizen Art’

Plessner, Fawn Daphne. 2019. ‘Doing’ Politics within ‘Citizen Art’. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (‘Doing’ Politics within ‘Citizen Art’)
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Abstract or Description

This practice-based research explores the way that 'citizen art' practices frame new understandings and enactments of citizenship, as distinct from normative (status, participatory and cosmopolitan) models. It contends that at a time in which the conditions of citizenship have been radically altered (e.g., by the increased securitization and individuation of bodies etc.), there is an urgent need for ‘citizen art’ to be acknowledged as a tool for assessing the ‘hollowed out’ conditions of citizenship. 'Citizen art', it shows, stands apart from other forms of Art by embodying 'acts of citizenship' (Isin, 2008) that reveal the limitations of state-centred citizenship regimes, whilst simultaneously enacting genuinely alternative modes of (non-statist) citizenship. The written part of this research is intended to discuss what the practice-based elements instantiate: it explains how 'citizen art' can make citizenship manifest in ways that do not reify or valorize the nation-state, status rights, or cosmopolitan imaginaries. It shows instead that the outcomes of ‘citizen art’, such as the institutions of solidarity, assembly and interventions, reconfigure the 'tools' of politics in the act of 'doing politics' that, in turn, perform new and nascent modes of (non-statist) citizenship.

Four original interventions were produced for this research: Citizen Artist News: Clouded Title (2018) and Citizen Artist News: The University as a Border Regime (2013), National Student Surveys (2012) and the Mobile Armband Exhibition (2011). Rather than addressing political themes and topics on a discursive level, this practice-based research takes the form of art interventions that ‘do’ politics. As material practices, they fundamentally demonstrate that it is through practice that new 'principles' of political organization and action emerge (Arendt). These interventions problematize normative theories of citizenship in two further ways: firstly, they create 'dissensual' (Rancière) props that expose and challenge many conventional understandings of citizenship; secondly, they use the techniques of 'investigative art' to extend and expand political action in the public domain.

The originality of this research lies in the way that it offers a new formulation of 'citizen art' - one that is interrogated on both critical and material levels, and as such, that remodels the foundations on which citizenship is conceived, performed and instituted.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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citizenship; citizen art; social art practice; activist art; art and politics; art interventions; performative citizenship; non-statist citizenship; cosmopolitan citizenship; acts of citizenship; status citizenship; practice-based research

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31 October 2019

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Date Deposited:

27 Nov 2019 15:11

Last Modified:

31 Oct 2022 02:26



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