‘Unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time’: Anti-Racist Activism and the Performativity of Statues

Conference paper


Drayton, T. 2021. ‘Unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time’: Anti-Racist Activism and the Performativity of Statues. Performance & Populism: Mobilization, Popular Power, and Embodiment on the Left. University of Warwick & University of Berkeley California 03 - 05 Nov 2021
AuthorsDrayton, T.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Building upon Getsy’s (2014) understanding of a statue both depicting a body in space and being a body in space, this article addresses the performativity of statues within an activist framework. Whilst Getsy (2014) proffers that the immediacy of the ‘corporeal relationality’ of a statue is counterpoised by it ‘confronting us with its immotility’, recent protest actions have pushed – sometimes quite literally – the statue to the forefront of protest actions. In manipulating, manoeuvring and marring the immotile, activists have woven the statue – a marble ‘residue of past decisions’ (Caterall, 2020) – into the performativity of protest. This paper explores the performativity of activists’ manipulation of statues from playful anarchism through to urgent political protest. From the 2011 repainting of the Monument to the Red Army in Sofia, Bulgaria, to the toppling of the statue of slaver Edward Colston in Bristol, UK, I examine the theatricality of recent protest actions that manipulate the immotility and muteness of statues by placing them in the position of the performer. Absence – and the threat of absence – is also a concern, regarding recent reactionary protests connected to the populist far right; a white protestor occupying the vacant Colston plinth in an effort to ‘defend war memorials’ (Gogarty, 2020); the protective circle of police surrounding a statue of Winston Churchill - itself hidden from view by ‘protective’ wooden boards. The ‘statue’ (or the absence of the statue) proffers a form of performative pedestal; a stage on which both protests and policing become theatricalised. If BLM is a kairos – a defining moment ‘to engage in constructive dialogue’ (Atuire, 2020) – protest actions that interact with such statues place these monuments in a position in which their authority and immotility is viscerally and physically challenged – revealing the precarity underneath their apparent solidity. This paper offers a performative reading towards this dialogue regarding the interaction between protestors and statues through activists’ repurposing these objects as central ‘characters’ in performative protest.

KeywordsStatues; Protest; Anti-Racism; Political Performance
Year2021
ConferencePerformance & Populism: Mobilization, Popular Power, and Embodiment on the Left
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Registered users only
Publication process dates
Completed04 Nov 2021
Deposited20 Feb 2023
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://vimeo.com/643220669/ce54a7b8f5#t=3h18m48s
Copyright holder© 2021 The Author
Permalink -

https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/8vq15

  • 114
    total views
  • 3
    total downloads
  • 6
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Notes on [a] Metamodernism [conference]
Drayton, T. 2023. Notes on [a] Metamodernism [conference]. in: Kavanagh, K. and Hamer, T. (ed.) The Really Fantastic and the Fantastically Real: Doing Circus Now Cardiff, UK Metamodern Festival. pp. 8 - 12
'It's All So Pointless. Ah, But It's Not Though, Is It? It's Really Real and When You Feel It You Can Really Feel It': Theatre and Performance within Metamodernism
Drayton, T. 2023. 'It's All So Pointless. Ah, But It's Not Though, Is It? It's Really Real and When You Feel It You Can Really Feel It': Theatre and Performance within Metamodernism. The Metamodern Circus. NoFit State Circus, Cardiff (UK) 26 - 26 May 2023 The Circus Diaries.
I Really Don't Care, Do You?: The Philosophical Problems of Producing or Performing Empathy in Contemporary Performance.
Drayton, T., Christodoulou, P., Corsa, A. and Goldstein, T. 2022. I Really Don't Care, Do You?: The Philosophical Problems of Producing or Performing Empathy in Contemporary Performance. Performance Philosophy Conference 2022. Units Helsinki 15 - 18 Jun 2022
The Gaming Democracy Project: Virtual Democracy in the Age of Fascism IRL (In Real Life)
Dunne-Howrie, J. and Drayton, T. 2022. The Gaming Democracy Project: Virtual Democracy in the Age of Fascism IRL (In Real Life). Zip-Scene 2022. Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, Hungary 10 - 12 Nov 2022
Can I Join In? Playful Performance and Alternative Political Realities
Drayton, T. 2022. Can I Join In? Playful Performance and Alternative Political Realities. in: Koubová, A., Urban, P., Russell, W. and MacLean, M. (ed.) Play and Democracy: Philosophical Perspectives Routledge. pp. 108-124
Meet Me Through the Webcam: An Ethics of Participatory Performance Practice in the Age of Zoom
Drayton, T. 2021. Meet Me Through the Webcam: An Ethics of Participatory Performance Practice in the Age of Zoom. CATR-SQET 2021: Crisis and Recovery: Theatre and Performance Before and After the Global Pandemic. University of Ottawa, Canada 10 Jun - 10 Jul 2021
Should I Be Joking in a Time Like This?: Bo Burnham's INSIDE as a Metamodern Response to Crisis
Drayton, T. 2021. Should I Be Joking in a Time Like This?: Bo Burnham's INSIDE as a Metamodern Response to Crisis.
Authenticity in the Arts and Media in an Era of Fake News: Loss & Hope
Drayton, T. 2019. Authenticity in the Arts and Media in an Era of Fake News: Loss & Hope. Authenticity in the Arts and Media in an Era of ‘Fake News’. University of East London, UK 07 Feb 2019
Can I Join In? Playful Performance as Political Intervention
Drayton, T. 2019. Can I Join In? Playful Performance as Political Intervention. Play and Democracy: The fifth biennial Philosophy at Play conference. The Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague 24 - 26 Jun 2019
Hope/Less: The Politics of Metamodern Theatre
Drayton, T. 2019. Hope/Less: The Politics of Metamodern Theatre. 4th AHRC Metamodernism Network Conference. Radboud University, Nijmegen 03 - 05 Jul 2019
A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance
Drayton, T. 2019. A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance . Artspraxis. 5 (2), pp. 169-184.
Listening Theatre: The New Politics of Millennial Performance Makers
Drayton, T. 2018. Listening Theatre: The New Politics of Millennial Performance Makers. NYU Educational Theatre Forum 2018: 'Performance as Activism'. New York University, NY, USA 19 2018 - 21 Apr 2019
Metamodernist, Millennial Milieu in Performance
Drayton, T. 2018. Metamodernist, Millennial Milieu in Performance. 'Making Connections' UEL ACI PGR Conference 2018. University of East London May 2018
The Listening Theatre: A Metamodern Politics of Performance
Drayton, T. 2018. The Listening Theatre: A Metamodern Politics of Performance. Performance Philosophy. 4 (1), pp. 170-187. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2018.41200
Round and Round the Gardens: Can the RHS engage children with relevant environmental issues through immersive, promenade theatre?
Drayton, T. 2016. Round and Round the Gardens: Can the RHS engage children with relevant environmental issues through immersive, promenade theatre? ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2016: On The Edge. University of Birmingham, UK 02 - 09 Jul 2016 ASSITEJ International.