For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

Politics and Performance

Online Speaker Series organized by Sruti Bala (Theatre Studies) and Elize Mazadiego (Art History).

This 5-part online speaker series runs complementary to our jointly taught MA module Art and Activism. The series visits the intersections of politics and performance and hopes for in-depth critical reflection and conversation on social movements, political activism, performance philosophy and embodied practices. We invite several international scholars to present their recent work on histories and contemporary modes of artistic activism.


Thursday 25 February 2021, 16:00-18:00 CET    

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra (Birkbeck University of London, UK)

Touched Bodies: The Performative Turn in Latin American art

Respondent: Kati Röttger (Theatre Studies, University of Amsterdam)

What is the role of pleasure and pain in the politics of art? In her lecture, Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra approaches this question as she examines the flourishing of live and intermedial performance in Latin America during times of authoritarianism and its significance during transitions to democracy.

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra is a Lecturer in Contemporary Art at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research focuses on contemporary Latin American Art and Intellectual History, looking at the politics of aesthetics and changing ideas of “life”, “agency” and “the body” in artistic practice. Her books include Touched Bodies: The Performative Turn in Latin American Art (Rutgers University Press, 2019), the forthcoming essay collection Marcos Kurtycz: Corporeality Unbound (Fauna-Jumex, 2019), and the edited volume Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Latin America.


Thursday 25 March 2021, 16:00-18:00 CET

Mark Fleishman (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Theatre amongst the ruins: The poetics and politics of South African adaptations

Respondent: Hanneke Stuit (ASCA)

Through the conceptual metaphor of the ruin, the lecture explores the ways in which the classical archive has been mobilized and reinvented by two white theatre-makers in South Africa: Athol Fugard's production of Orestes in 1971 and my own adaptation of Antigone (not quite/quiet) in 2019.

Mark Fleishman is Professor of Theatre in the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town. He is also a co-artistic director of Magnet Theatre, an independent theatre company established in 1987. Recent publications: Performing Migrancy and Mobility in Africa: Cape of Flows in the Studies in International Performance series at Palgrave (2015) and two special issues of the South African Theatre Journal on Translation & Performance (2019 & 2020). He is currently principal investigator on the project Re-imagining Tragedy from Africa and the Global South, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Thursday 22 April 2021, 16:00-18:00 CET

Jennifer S. Ponce de León (University of Pennsylvania, US)

Another Aesthetics is Possible: Arts of Rebellion in the Fourth World War

Respondent: Elize Mazadiego (Art History, University of Amsterdam)

The lecture will examine the roles that art can play in the collective labor of creating and defending another social reality. Focusing on artists and art collectives in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, Ponce de León will address how experimental practices in the visual, literary, and performing arts have been influenced by and articulated with leftist movements and popular uprisings that have repudiated neoliberal capitalism and its violence.

Jennifer S. Ponce de León is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on cultural production and antisystemic movements in the Americas since the 1960s. She is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania where she is also faculty in Latin American and Latinx Studies. She is also Associate Director of the Critical Theory Workshop and an independent curator. Her book Another Aesthetics is Possible: Arts of Rebellion in the Fourth World War (Duke University Press, 2020) theorizes aesthetics as an integral component of contemporary social struggles. Her writing has also appeared in American Quarterly, Philosophy Today, ASAP/Journal, Social Text, e-misférica, GLQ, and in multiple edited collections.


Thursday 27 May 2021, 16:00-18:00 CET

Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca (Amsterdam University of the Arts, NL)

Performance Philosophy and Animals: Towards a Radical Equality

Respondent: Jeff Diamanti (Environmental Humanities, University of Amsterdam)

Can art allow humans to occupy the worlds of non-human animals? How can performance contribute to addressing anthropocentrism, speciesism and the violence toward animal bodies such perspectives enable? Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca will address the importance and challenges of including animals in how we think about the relation between politics and performance according to an intersectional approach that considers how animal oppression connects with other forms of structural violence and inequality.

Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca is Lector, Head of DAS Graduate School and Head of Research at the Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam University of the Arts in the Netherlands. Her current research project is the AHRC-funded Leadership Fellowship, Performance Philosophy & Animals: Towards a Radical Equality (2019-2022). Her recent books include: The Routledge Companion to Performance Philosophy (Routledge, 2020) and Encounters in Performance Philosophy (Palgrave, 2014), both co-edited with Alice Lagaay. She is a founding core convener of the international research network, Performance Philosophy, joint series editor of the Performance Philosophy book series with Rowman & Littlefield, and an editor of the open access Performance Philosophy journal. Laura originally trained as an artist at the Slade School of Art in London and presented performances internationally including Tanzquartier Wien (2015); ICA London (2008); Serpentine Gallery, London (2008, with the artists’ collective, SpRoUt); and TATE Britain (2003).

Thursday 24 June 2021, 16:00-18:00 CET

Ana Vujanović (Independent scholar and cultural worker, Berlin/Belgrade)

The politics of production in the performing arts

Respondent: Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes (Art History, University of Amsterdam)

The lecture argues that performance today is a model of production, rather than a model of politics, as it has been assumed in democratic society. This, however, does not mean that the performance is apolitical or politically irrelevant, but that its politicality is now usually indirect and tacit, predominantly operating in the register of the ‘political unconscious’. Reasons for that indirect and dubious politicality of the performing arts should be found in a wider socio-economic process of today’s neoliberal society. The point is that therein, politics has already been immersed in capitalist production, which is post-Fordist and post-industrial. That phenomenon has multifold causes and consequences. In order to disentangle it, I unfold the twin processes of the economisation of politics and the politicisation of production, as a backdrop against which one should approach the issue of the political dimension of art today.

Ana Vujanović holds a Ph.D. in Humanities (Theatre Studies). She has lectured at various universities and was a professor in the Performance Studies Department at the University Hamburg. Since 2016 she is a team member and mentor at SNDO – School for New Dance Development, AHK Amsterdam. She was a founding member of the TkH [Walking Theory], a Belgrade-based collective, and editor-in-chief of the TkH Journal for Performing Arts Theory (2001-17). She has published a number of articles and several books, such as Public Sphere by Performance, with B. Cvejic (2012), A Live Gathering: Performance and Politics in Contemporary Europe, edited with L. Piazza (2019) and Toward a Transindividual Self, with B. Cvejic (2021). She also works as a dramaturg in contemporary theatre, dance, performance and film. With filmmaker Marta Popivoda she is engaged in long-term artistic-theoretical research, which most recently resulted in a documentary Landscapes of Resistance (2021).

with the support of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and Department of Art and Culture, University of Amsterdam