Archives for category: Further Reading

Howell, Anthony (1999) The Analysis of Performance Art: A Guide to its Theory and Practice. Amsterdam, Netherlands Harwood Academic Publishers.

  • I have returned to this book to remind myself of some of the key themes and issues of performance such as notions space, time, chaos, stillness, etc. Whilst Howell does not address ‘social engagement’ itself, I feel that this late 1990’s publication is ‘of it’s time’, and reflects concerns of site, audience and intention. This is also a good book for anyone not sure what ’performance’ is in this context, and needing a bit of background reading.

Kuppers, Petra & Robertson, Gwen. (Ed.) (2007) The Community Performance Reader.

  • A useful teaching resource, covering a range of ‘community’ practices. A pedagogic book – reader for students of performance. Good examples/ case studies.

Shaughnessy, Nicola. (2012) Applying Performance: Live Art, Socially Engaged Theatre and Affective Practice. Basingstoke. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • I’m haven’t read all of this – just dipped in and out of section on ‘place and placing’. The introduction is useful: ‘applied’, joining, connecting, political or pedagogic motivation. It also provides a simple unpacking of terms such as performance, devising, site, etc. The chapter on Practices gives a useful frame for notions of ‘authenticity’, and mediation.

Johnston, Sandra. (2014) Beyond Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation of Doubt, Risk and Testimony Through Performance Art Process in Relation to Systems of Legal Justice. European Studies in Culture and Policy. Vol. 13. Ed: Craith, M. N, & Kockel, U. Zurich & Münster. Lit Verlag.

  • Johnston’s work is firmly located as visual performance art, and yet she writes here about the affect of and context for performance as a process of social engagement, particularly when located in personal, public and political trauma.

Kester, Grant. (2013) Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art.  Berkeley California. University of California Press.

  • Some key art theories, applied to a collection of global examples of arts practice. I used it in discussion on gender, taste and the relationship of class and gender to notions of and the aesthetics of the avant-garde.

Courage, C. (2014) Placemaking as Performative Art [online lecture] in Complicating the co-production of art: hidden humans and acting objects, ‘Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference’. Held 29 August 2014 at Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Imperial College London. available from <>

  • Quote from Courage, ‘I also see a social practice placemaking as a new genre placemaking, away from the top-down proscribed regeneration or participatory placemaking of city authorities and developers with major public art commissions for example.’ p.4.

Hubbard, P., Kitchin, R., Valentine, G. (eds.) 2008. Key Thinkers on Space and Place. London: SAGE Publications.

  • Brilliant compilation of individuals who have been influential in this field – gives biographical info and chronological synopsis of key theories and interests.

Purves, T. (ed.) 2005. What We Want Is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art. Albany: State University of New York.

  • Transferring goods and services as art, ‘gift’ and ‘generosity’ as part of the artistic act, project histories (or case studies). Part Two covers the theoretical and historical background of exchange and giving.

Willats, S. 2012. Artwork as Social Model: A Manual of Questions and Propositions. Sheffield: RGAP (Research Group for Artists).

  • Case studies inc. transcripts, diagrams and time lines of projects that have the everyday, society and participants in common – all by artist Stephen Willats.

Social Model as Artwork

Bishop, C. 2012. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso.

  • Discusses the beginnings and history of participatory art, and its relationship to the political in Western society. Concludes with the need to recognise art as an experimental activity, and participatory art communicating to both spectators and participants.  Useful as an overview.

Image credit: Stephen Willats

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Allora & Calzadilla (2007) Interview in ART21 Allora & Calzadilla | Art21 | Preview from Season 4 of “Art in the Twenty-First Century” (2007) [Online video]. Available at: (Accessed 28th July 2014).

  • This short video introduces a piece of work titled Chalks, which was made by Allora & Calzadilla in Peru. Chalks involved the company placing gigantic pieces of chalk in a central square in Lima that houses several government buildings. The square is one regularly used for the voicing of political issues by members of the public. This video looks at how the chalks deposited by A&C were used by people within this place, and how the ‘sculpture’ (A&C’s term, though I would argue it’s as much performance) was eventually removed by police.


Cirio, P. (n.d.) Street Ghosts [poster interventions] documented at Cirio, P. (2012) Street Ghosts [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4th September 2013).

  • Cirio’s Street Ghosts project involves him finding places on google maps where the images of people have been captured, printing out life-size images of them and then pasting these images onto buildings and objects in the actual streets that they appear on google maps. The work explores the problems around surveillance culture and companies that own personal information in the form of public images.

Freeman, J. (2010) Blood, Sweat and Theory. Farringdon: Libri Publishing.

  • This book is about practice-as-research, but it is interesting because it includes several case studies, many of which are examples of socially-engaged performance. See particularly chapters: 1 – on the work of Allan Owens and Hala Al-Yamani; 3 – on the work of Curious; and 11 – on the work of Lee Miller and Bob Whalley; amongst others.

Hofbauer, U. and Derschmidt, F. (2010) ‘Horror Vacui’ in Whybrow, N. (ed.) Performance and the Contemporary City: An Interdisciplinary Reader. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Hofbauer and Derschmidt discuss their ‘Permanent Breakfast’ events, in which they invite members of the public to sit with them in public places and breakfast. The work functions as a way to meet strangers and to talk about things. In this article Hofbauer and Derschmidt talk about ‘pseudo’ public urban space and how anonymity affects people’s ability to connect and be ‘public’. They also have a website that compliments this article:
  • Permanent Breakfast (2013). Rules of the Game. [online]. Available from: (Accessed 31st July 2013).

LIGNA (n.d.)(c) The Cry of the Mall [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4th September 2013).

  • LIGNA are a group of three artists working together on different projects. They have a weekly radio show, which involves members of the public calling up and playing their favourite songs through their phone receivers. But, this article from their website talks about a project called The Cry of the Mall, and in it I like the way they discuss how the mall conditions social life.

Image credit: Allora and Calzadilla

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Social Works, by Shannon Jackson, Routledge, 2011

  • A wide-ranging study on socially engaged practice in a variety of contexts. Particularly interesting is Jackson’s analysis of how art practice can usefully intersect with institutions; she makes a well-argued challenge to the assumption that radical interventions can only operate at the grass-roots level.

Include Me Out!

Art and Participation

  • Two blog posts by Dave Beech of the Freee Art Collective on the risks and dangers within the current tendency towards fetishizing participation in art practice.

Homebaked / 2Up2Down

  • Originally initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and presented in the Liverpool Biennial in 2012, this cooperatively run Bakery and Community Land Trust provides a rich example of a meaningful intersection between art practice and a local community.

Homebaked - 600

The Author as Producer, by Walter Benjamin, New Left Review, 1970.

  • It’s nearly 50 years old now, but there’s still a lot of value in Benjamin’s demand for the manner in which art work is produced, to be an essential component of how it is understood.

On refusing to pretend to do politics in a museum, by John Jordan, Art monthly, 2010. Available online:

  • When the Tate Modern invited the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination to run a workshop, they thought that they were just going to play at social justice. John Jordan documents this workshop, Tate’s attempts to censor them, and the birth of what has since become Liberate Tate.

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These next few posts offer up some short reading & research lists, pulled together for our recent second Peer to Peer session, held at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford (many thanks to all the staff for their help).

They’re based on our own highly partial set of interests, current practice and research. We wanted to share them in case you find them stimulating and of use.

Sarah Spanton Reading/Research List

Invisible Hand: Art in the Transition to Another Economy, by Charlie Tims and Shelagh Wright, commissioned by IETM and the British Council, 2013, to be found at

  • Very interesting approach to thinking about the financial crisis and looking at artists/artists groups who are making work across Europe that seeks to critique and influence policy makers and power holders. If you’re strapped for time the short introduction is well-worth a read.

Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown New York Scene, Prestel Verlag, Munich in association with Barbican Art Gallery, 2011

  • Great exhibition/catalogue. Focussed on seminal works from Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta Clark and Laurie Anderson who’s works are connected by performance, the urban, found spaces and the body. Although the works were made 40 years ago and in New York, they are still highly relevant to the UK today. Includes Brown’s ‘Roof Piece’ and ‘(Wo)man walking down the side of a building’ and Matta Clark’s ‘Open House’, the restaurant ‘Food’.

Roof Piece - 600

Image credit: Trisha Brown ‘Roof Piece’

Jeanne Van Heeswijk –

  • How can an artist be an instrument for the collective reimagining of daily environments, given the complexity of our societies? This is the question that artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, of the Netherlands, considers when deciding how to employ her work to improve communities. Van Heeswijk believes communities need to co-produce their own futures. That’s why she embeds herself, for years at a time, in communities from Rotterdam to Liverpool, working with them to improve their neighbourhoods and empowering them to design their own futures—not wait for local authorities to foist upon them urban planning schemes which rarely take embedded culture into account. (Text taken from the website).

The Well Connected Community; a networked approach to community development, By Alison Gilchrist, The Policy Press, 2009

  • An in depth look at what community development is in the UK. Gilchrist is an authority in the field.

The RAX Active Citizenship Toolkit: GCSE Citizen Studies, Skills and Processes, by Jamie Kelsey-Fry and Anita Dhillon, New Internationalist Publications Ltd, 2010

  • A useful practical toolkit with exercises and activities to help think through notions and issues around citizenship with groups, focussed on young people but transferable.

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