Bianca Hester, Connie Anthes, Deliah King, Ian Milliss, Louise Anderson, Madeleine Preston, Michaela Gleave, Paula do Prado, Peter Fritzenwallner and W. Ray

graphic resistance/ poetry activism/ mass dance actions/ articulated dissent/ choral objections/ archival demonstrations/ tactical aesthetics/ barricade theatre/ registered opposition/ narrative remonstration

A protest is an expression of bearing witness. It can take many forms, from an individual’s stance to a mass demonstration, a protest may also consist of a poem, a song, dancing or a novel. The poetics of a protest can include performance aesthetics, articulation, gesture, affect and visual material.

Poetic protests excel in resisting didactic foreclosures of meaning. The action and the language of the protest are kept in play, more difficult for the status quo to counter. In certain cultural traditions of resistance, the poetic is at once the communication strategy and a deeper aesthetic expression of the culture. For example South American cultures have long employed poems and songs, blending high and low culture, in active political resistance. Wit and laughter are also poetic protest strategies, and are often entwined with the pathos of failure – the earnest attempts at social change so often thwarted by the perpetual nature of revolution. A focus on poetics acknowledges the disjunction between protest and change – that the desired change may not occur despite the mass mobilisation of voice and body. Change has its own rhythm and momentum, often circuitous and temporal.

How should the poetics of a protest be assessed? What might it mean to talk about the beauty of the protest, or the pain of political struggle? What does it mean for artists to employ the aesthetics of historical and current protests? How do we understand a protest through the aesthetic of its documentation? How do the languages of individual and collective protests differ? What are the poetics of a protest conducted silently, illegibly or through the language of inaction?

July 22 – September 6, 2015

Curated by Affiliated Text

Photo Credits: Felicity Jenkins

Not Singing Room Sheet