Articles by: Sigrid Merx and Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink

Sigrid Merx is Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies at Utrecht University, and currently the Head of Education of the Culture and Media Studies department. Her research focusses on critical interventions in public space that address issues of urban and civic engagement and on creative methods of exploring, mapping and intervening in public space. She is a core member of the [urban interfaces] research group at Utrecht University, the initiator of the minor Creative Cities, and one of the initiators of Platform-Scenography. She is co-editor of the special issue of LEA: Urban Interfaces - Media, Art, and Performance in Public Space (MIT Press, 2019), and has contributed, among others, to the edited volumes The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics (Routledge, 2018) and Performing the Digital: Performativity and Performance Studies in Digital Cultures (Transcript Verlag, 2017). She is also active as a dramaturg, writer and curator.

Subversive Affirmation

Subversive Affirmation

This essay looks into critical mimesis as an artistic strategy, discussing how artists imitate or copy non-theatre systems or formats while subtly subverting them, thus critiquing these existing systems and ideologies ‘from within.’ After providing a brief example—Julian Hetzel’s Schuldfabrik—the essay further introduces the concept of subversive affirmation and the closely related notion of over-identification, referring to scholars Inke Arns and Sylvia Sasse, Slavoj Žižek and the BAVO research collective. The concept of subversive affirmation is then used to analyse the large-scale project Unified Estonia by Theatre NO99 (2010), in which the Estonian theatre company created a fictious political party to investigate the performance of populist politics. Zooming in on (moral) ambiguity and ethical dilemmas as key characteristics of the strategy, the essay closes with a brief discussion of Samira Elagoz’s solo Cock, Cock … Who’s There? (2016), in which she cleverly plays with the logics of online dating platforms in order to re-appropriate the male gaze. keywords; camouflage acts, imitation as critical practice, mimesis, over-identification, performance and politics, subversive affirmation