This book examines how citizen art practices perform new kinds of politics, as distinct from normative (status, participatory and cosmopolitan) models. It contends that at a time in which the conditions of citizenship have been radically altered (e.g., by the increased securitization and individuation of bodies and so forth), there is an urgent drive for citizen art to be enacted as a tool for assessing the “hollowed out” conditions of citizenship. Citizen art, it shows, stands apart from other forms of art by performing acts of citizenship that reveal and transgress the limitations of state-centred citizenship regimes, whilst simultaneously enacting genuinely alternative modes of (non-statist) citizenship.
This book offers a new formulation of citizen art—one that is interrogated on both critical and material levels, and as such, remodels the foundations on which citizenship is conceived, performed and instituted.
Fawn Daphne Plessner is a professional artist and Associate Professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Canada. She holds a BA (Hons) Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Art & Politics from Goldsmiths College, University of London, United Kingdom. She studied Fine Art at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste, Munich, Germany, under the artist Robin Page, an early member of the Fluxus movement. She has won numerous research grants and her art work has been exhibited in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, USA and Canada. Since 2008, her work has focused on public art interventions under the banner of ‘citizen artist’.
1 What Is Citizen Art? Its Meaning and Challenges
2 The Problem of Status and Cosmopolitan Citizenship and the Value of “Acts of Citizenship” for Understanding Citizen Art
3 Art Interventions as Tools for Doing Politics and Shaping New Terrain
4 Enacting New Modes of Citizenship: Solidarities, Assemblies, and Public Thought Experiments
5 Altering the Facts on the Ground: Citizen Artist News: Clouded Title
6 Expanding Membership: Citizen Artist News: Kinship
Daphne Plessner helps us frame a spectrum of contemporary artistic practices, including her own, which shape civil space and ‘do politics’ in a new light. This is an engaged and passionate proposition for new models of citizenship that defy both the Westphalian models of the nation state and cosmopolitan imaginaries.
This is a wonderfully original book that will be a must-read for anyone interested in the under-explored relationship between art and citizenship. By interrogating citizenship from the perspective of activist and social art practices, Plessner entirely reframes our understandings of both citizenship and art, bringing to light the incipient nature of both, and pushing artists and scholars to consider how new models of citizenship can move beyond statist and cosmopolitan imaginaries. Placing the artist at the interstices between citizenship and activism, Plessner generates and conveys a necessary sense of urgency about the relationship between art and citizenship. She shows us not only how ‘citizen art’ interventions can interrupt hegemonies of settler-colonial logics of entitlement but also how they can create new bonds between people, establish new political relations and change assumptions about who is seen and heard as a political actor. If you want to understand how art can generate new dialogues that promote spaces for social transformation, then you need to read this book!