By any Means Necessary

Authored by: Jan Cohen-Cruz

The Routledge Companion to Art and Politics

Print publication date:  January  2015
Online publication date:  February  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415645102
eBook ISBN: 9781315736693
Adobe ISBN: 9781317567806


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I take the occasion of this collection on art and politics to revisit and contextualize three modes of activist performance that held sway over me at different points in the past 40 years—street performance, Theatre of the Oppressed, and community-based theatre. All three are participatory, partaking in a politics of pro-activation, each in its own way spring-boarding from what we can imagine to what action we can take to change an entrenched power dynamic. All three are art in Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s sense:

If you take my approach, which has to do with giving value form, that form may or may not be beautiful; it may or may not be virtuosic; it may or may not be an exemplar of craft. But meaningful form and value for me are at the heart of what art is.

(1995: 421).

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