Everyday Resistance | Susan Bennett

Susan Bennett


At a time when neoliberal capital markets are breathtakingly robust and expect, as Amin Ash and Nigel Thrift trenchantly capture, ‘the “financialization” of everything’ (2013: 190), there has been a felt urgency in making artistic work that resists. The turn to a socially oriented participatory art has been a vital and common strategy to this purpose and, as Claire Bishop puts it, ‘Participatory
projects in the social field therefore seem to operate with a twofold gesture of opposition and amelioration’ (2012: 12). At the same time, scholarly studies of contemporary performance have privileged this kind of work and celebrated its political potential with the conviction, or at least hope, that it might somehow challenge dominant ideology and promote social change. There has
been much less field interest in artistic enterprise that produces commercial success although local and regional economies have, in many places in the world, been vigorously encouraging the development of the so-called ‘creative industries’ supported by the construction, often, of expensive and extensive new cultural infrastructure. This is an urban ‘improvement’ model that had its genesis in what Andrew McClellan and very many others have called ‘the Bilbao effect’ (2008: 90–92): a description of the new economic activity and significant global recognition generated by the opening, in 1997, of the Guggenheim art museum in the eponymous northern Spanish city.

In this essay, I am interested, then, in a different kind of participatory performance—one that is occasioned by art but relies on everyday interactions that go far beyond the presence of what Leslie Sklair and Jason Struna have called an ‘icon project’ (2013: 754).

Full Text:



Ash, Amin, and Nigel Thrift. Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013).

Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012). Cresswell, Tim. Place: A Short Introduction (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004).

Dean, Jodi. The Communist Horizon (London: Verso, 2012).

Glancey, Jonathan. ‘Finland fights the Guggenheim invasion,’ The Telegraph



Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Annual Report 2012, http://www.guggenheim-bilbao-corp.es/wp-


Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)

Hornstein, Shelley. Losing Site: Architecture, Memory and Place (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011)

Klingmann, Anna. Brandscapes (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007).

McClellan, Andrew. The Art Museum from Boullée to Bilbao (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).

Sklair, Leslie, and Jason Struna. ‘The Icon Project: The Transnational Capitalist Class in Action.’ Globalizations 10.5 (2013): 747–763.


  • There are currently no refbacks.