Event Details

Wednesday, 22 August 2018
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Level 6, The Terrace Room,
UQ Location:
Sir Llew Edwards Building (St Lucia)
Event category(s):

Event Contact

Ms Dolores Element
+61 7 3365 2609
Org. Unit:
Communication and Arts

Event Description

Full Description:
In this talk, A/Prof Laura Levin will reflect on the highly performative and provocative reign of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, a figure who raised important questions about the boundaries between public and private life, about the constant demand for self-exposure on a highly public world stage. Here Laura explores the media’s frequent characterization of Ford as a both witting and unwitting “performance artist”—even leading one blogger to wonder “if Rob Ford is secretly the greatest performance artist in the history of Toronto.” 

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at 2010 Toronto Santa Claus Parade
Photo by Jason Verwey, courtesy of Creative Commons on Flickr.com
Looking at the theatrical acts of self-staging in which Ford engaged—from public weigh-ins, to arm wrestling with Hulk Hogan, to appearances on YouTube—as well as the wide range of performative works that have been created about Ford (operas, musicals, solo shows, theatrical bus tours), Laura ask what it might mean to take these claims seriously and to read politicians as performance artists. How are Ford’s public actions ghosted by a history of “real” performance artists who have run for public office in Canada (Mr. Peanut, The Hummer Sisters, Chris Lloyd), and how do they shape public understandings of performance art in general, a form often associated with the resistant aesthetics of the political left?

In grappling with these questions, Laura consider how “performance” as an idea circulates in contemporary political culture, both as an image of politics-gone-wrong and as a form of cultural capital manipulated by public figures—especially by populist politicians like US President Donald Trump and Canada’s newly elected provincial premier, Doug Ford (Rob’s controversy-courting brother).
 In doing so, Laura builds on emerging conversations in theatre and performance studies about the appropriation of performance models within non-aesthetic contexts, and ask how these alternative articulations of performance shake up well-worn assumptions about the radicality and resistant nature of performance as theatrical and social form.

Directions to UQ

Google Map:
To St Lucia Campus, UQ Ipswich, and UQ Gatton.

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