The Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance

at Antonin Artaud Performance Centre

Brunel University, London



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Past workshops



Contested Exchanges: Space, Place and the Performance of Democracy

International Conference-Workshop

Friday - Sunday, March 27-29, 2015

KEYNOTES INCLUDE: John Parkinson (Professor of Policy and Democracy, University of Warwick)
Davina Cooper (Professor of Law and Political Theory, University of Kent)


The fourth ARTAUD FORUM examines the contemporary political praxis: The Arab Spring, Occupy Movement, England Riots, and Ukrainian Revolution are events that show how dissent is at its most powerful when it spills over into public space and becomes a visible event for the world to see. Of course, these events also demonstrate the potency of digital media to circulate these voices of dissent to a wider global public sphere. They therefore add value to the argument that suggests every sort of public debate and ‘politics’ can increasingly be ‘democratised’ through online platforms and virtual presences. At the same time, politicians have been encouraging ordinary people to work together with voluntary, public and private bodies in order to revitalise local communities.

However, these developments have created tensions in cities and towns. On the one hand, a ‘deliberative’ approach to citizenship has arisen that attempts to listen to local grievances and seeks to ‘empower’ people in communities through the creative opportunities that public and private investment provides. On the other hand, cities and towns have increasingly privatised their public space through the likes of new shopping centres, redevelopment schemes, and private housing schemes. Alongside these networks of gentrification, many authorities, planners, and security forces have also installed new modes of surveillance in public space that code people’s behaviour in different ways, while different governments across the world have equipped their police and security forces with increased legislative powers to regulate cities and towns.

Taken all together, these processes have created assemblages of power, fissures and fluidities in public space. Deliberative opportunities have opened up for a whole network of ordinary voices to be heard in the public sphere, while new modes of control and governance would seem to confine these voices within configurations of control. Tensions between both of these mean that novel spaces for alternative assemblages and performances of activism, citizenship and democracy have the potential to arise.

But why might performance/s in such public spaces be considered fundamental to the democratic process? Where the performance of democracy is not considered a metaphor for action or intent but as something fundamental to the process itself, how have these performances grown or have been stifled within processes already described? In an age of digital media, what is in fact the value of physical space and physical bodies for democracy? What is the role of space and place in the performance of democracy as well as in notions of ‘public’ spaces that are increasingly difficult to define as ‘of the people’ /popular/ public?

This event is sponsored by the Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance and supported by the Brunel College of Business, Arts and Social Science





Theatre and Resonant Politics

Struggle between students and teachers against government forces, Oaxaca 2006 © photo: Israel Rosas

International Conference-Workshop

March 23 - March 24, 2013

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Konnecting Gestures

Helenna Ren in DAP-Lab rehearsal with camera and Kinect interface (c) DAP-Lab 2011

International Conference-Workshop on Performance and Sound Technologies

March 30 - April 1, 2012

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The World from within and without

(in memoriam Kazuo Ohno)

Yumi Sagara and Biyo Kikuchi (Maison Artaud, Tokyo) performing at Artaud Performance Centre, West London

April 4-5, 2011

All Keynotes and Roundtables are co-produced with DAPLabTV and streamed online as well as archived.


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(c) 2015 The Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance, Johannes Birringer (acting director)