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Title: On site : art, performance and the urban social housing estate in contemporary governance and the cultural economy
Author: Bell, Charlotte Sophie Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 9096
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis questions how sub-disciplines in theatre and performance negotiate ‘sitespecificity’ as an aesthetic practice and tool of urban governance that ‘sees’ and ‘performs’ social housing estates. As a practice that, predominantly, takes place beyond conventional performance spaces, applied theatre might be a paradigmatic form of socially engaged sitespecific activity. However, scholarship on the ‘social turn’ more readily cites Bourriaud’s ‘relational aesthetics’, or Bishop and Jackson’s critiques of ‘social practice’, which emerged in gallery and visual arts contexts. The ‘social turn’ poses problems for scholarly relations between ‘social practice’, ‘applied theatre’, the cultural economy and urban governance. I draw on socio-legal scholar Valverde’s ‘seeing like a city’, theatre scholar McKinnie’s ‘performing like a city’ and cultural economy as a theoretical framework, developing McKinnie’s concerns with ‘cultural equity’, and Harvey’s use of ‘fixed capital’ and ‘consumption fund’ in my analysis of relations between cultural and social realms. Consequently, this project hopes to contribute to an emerging area of research between socio-legal urbanism and performance studies, complicating ‘site-specificity’ as a descriptive category. Over five chapters I analyse site-specific works about estates staged in Lambeth and Southwark (inner-city London boroughs) since 2008. First, I examine relations between site-specificity and estate regeneration: the representations of overhead walkways in Delahay’s The Westbridge (2011) and Cotterrell’s Slipstream (2011) and the estate as ‘ruin’ in two Artangel interventions, Seizure (2008) and Pyramid (n.d.). I then shift to issues raised by legal and social boundaries in governance; I examine SLG’s partnerships with a neighbouring estate and ‘issue-based’ plays in two examples of theatre for young people. The final chapter draws out the project’s wider thematic concerns: the aesthetic implications of pedagogy and funding bodies on imaginings of site. This project calls attention to the complex cultural, socio-legal and economic structures that shape our cities, and the degrees to which they might be repurposed or re-imagined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Drama ; Theatre ; Performing Arts ; Performance ; Urban space