Syllabus - "Resistance: Defying the Self"

Resistance: defying the self

Elena Marchevska

In 2011, Time Magazine named the “protester” person of the year, arguing that protest has become “the defining trope of our times” and the protester as “a maker of history”. More than anything, however, this form of resistance is a creative process. As an example Fluxus was a form of resistance, which is inevitable if you want to draw something out or interrogate something different that goes against the mainstream. Resistance is often used in the context of politics, but it is also a form of artistic expression and an artistic tool. During this workshop we will aim to research the topic of “resistance” in a variety of ways and seek to explore how we as artists are able to use this tool for our own artistic practices. In addition to theoretical framework, we too will face our own personal resistance towards ideas, concepts and the other. We will have  discussion about ethical doubts or simply about the matter of taste, by looking at artists and theoreticians like Fluxus, Karen Finley, Teddy Cruz, Dusan Makavejev, Tehching Hsieh, Ron Athey and Rocio Boliver.

We will look on the artistic process to discover ways out of the conventional path students use in their studios. Resistance always has a form and during the workshop we will experiment with other artistic and non-artistic forms to prove where resistance can open a new space instead of just being resistant/defying/ challenging. The spectrum of the offered exercises, tasks, experiments and assignments will provide an intensive and direct approach to use resistance as an artistic tool. The space of and around Uferstudios, will be explored and examined in various ways and it is there that we will attempt to place ourselves and our works on resistance.

Day 1 – Resistance within
Resistance is the repelling force preventing us from doing our work. It’s invisible – but it can be felt. It manifests itself in ways such as procrastination, instant gratification, excuses, victimhood, waiting for perfection, jealousy, criticism of others and fear. In the West, we are indoctrinated in over-thinking, over-planning and perfection. How to work with/against this?

We will look at the role of resistance in art practice and resistance as obstacle/force in art. We will discuss the reading (Karl Jung and Amalie Jones) and look at the work of Fluxus, Karen Finley etc

12-1 Lunch break

1-5 Practical exploration on resistance within. We will write, discuss, explore internal mechanisms that stop or pivot us into a creative process. The motto of the day is: Don’t think. Act!

Day 2 – Counterculture
Cultural resistance focuses on raising awareness of an issue and calls for justice; it does not exist for the sake of pity or sympathy. Creative cultural resistance can include very dramatic and high-risk acts such as painting controversial murals, occupying a privately owned or disputed space, performance art that criticizes the government, or pageants. Lower-risk resistance also exists in smaller scales, including posting stickers, banging pots and pans or flickering lights from inside homes, or even speaking a specific language.

Creative cultural resistance can take a variety of forms at both large and small scales. We will look into and discuss successful acts of cultural resistance such as installations, museums, reclamation and occupation of contested sites, puppet shows, and videos of solidarity. We will discuss the reading (Francis Fanton and bell hooks) and look at the work of Teddy Cruz, Dusan Makavejev and Tehching Hsieh.

12 -1 Lunch

1-5 Practical exploration of counter-actions and cultural resistance. We will explore invisible acts, short-lived actions, small interventions. All of this will be done in small groups and you will be able to work in studio or around Uferstudios/Berlin. As part of this session we will discuss documentation and importance of documentation in counter-cultural activities.

Day 3 – Occupy myself/ Occupy the world

10- 12 Humor can be used as a powerful tool to captivate a wide range of audiences, attract media attention, support, generate dialogue, as well as provoke thought. On the last day we will look at links between humor and resistance. The effect of the audacity of humor on the audience also has an immense effect.  By combining the elements of audacity with humor, the chances of provoking thought and contemplation are increased.  We will discuss the reading (Judith Butler and Sean Cubbit) and look at the work of Yes Lab, Spartacus Chetwynd,  Keith Piper, Assemble etc.

1-3 Workshop/ proposition to follow this questions through practice: How can we occupy our own debilitating resistance to change obvious internal obstacles? Can we challenge the audience to join us on this journey? Can we do a bit of “laughtivism”?

3-5 Prepare the space for the audience to discuss and see some of the work that was created during the workshop

Required Reading
Jenny Hughes & Simon Parry (2015) Introduction: Gesture, Theatricality, and Protest – Composure at the Precipice, Contemporary Theatre Review, 25:3, 300-312, DOI:10.1080/10486801.2015.1049818   pdf

Claire Tancons (2011) Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility, E-Flux  pdf

Henry A Giroux (2015) Selfie Culture in the Age of Corporate and State Surveillance, Third Text, 29:3, 155-164,  pdf

Angela Ellsworth (2001) Performing illness: Crisis, collaboration and resistance, Contemporary Theatre Review, 11:3-4, 137-148, pdf

Elpida Karaba (2013) Tactics of Resistance, Third Text, 27:5, 674-688  pdf

Sean Cubitt (1999) Keith piper: After resistance, beyond destiny, Third Text,13:47, 77-86,  pdf

JUDITH BUTLER(2005)  On Never Having Learned How to Live differences 16(3): 27-34  pdf

bell hooks ( 1989) Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Boston: South End Press.  pdf

Suggested Reading
Fanon’s Black skin, white masks (1986) (London: Pluto Press) and The wretched of the earth  (1990) (London: Penguin)

Steve Biko (1969) I write what I like

Materials students should bring to class
Scanner, speakers, video projector.

resistance; surrender; protest; counterculture; self-defying;