Performance as a gesture of resistance in Laila Soliman’s No Time for Art

Hussein, Nesreen ORCID: (2015) Performance as a gesture of resistance in Laila Soliman’s No Time for Art. In: Theatre and Stratification. International Federation for Theatre Research’s world congress, 28 Jul - 01 Aug 2014, The University of Warwick. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Protesters and activists during the Arab Revolutions forcefully attempt to forge an alternative discourse through acts of resistance charged with creative force, utilizing a diversity of mediums to intervene in the stratified spaces of oppression. These “gestures” of protest shift between the symbolic and the “real”, generating affective power and effective change. The notion of “gesture” here is understood as an action where the impulse, means and ends of production are inseparable. As Giorgio Agamben argues, “it is only as a gesture in which potential and action, nature and artifice, contingency and necessity, become indiscernible” (137). It’s an ongoing act that facilitates, or points towards, a contemporary crisis and the futures beyond it without “neither production nor enactment, but undertaking and supporting” (140). No Time for Art is a series of “documentary” and verbatim performances directed by Egyptian artist Laila Soliman. The series aims to confront its audience with the realities of living under military junta in Egypt, drawing focus to the ongoing violence against civilians. The series is described as being “bare to the bone”, offering “raw artistic reactions that aim at preventing history to be rewritten by those who are rewriting it at the moment”. The series in its confrontational stance questions the adequacy of art during a time of crisis, since “these times don’t need art, or do they?” (No Time for Art). Touching on Agamben’s notion of “gesture”, this paper looks at the dissolving boundary between art production and political activism and the inseparability between the political act and the creative process. In Soliman’s work, I argue, the performance gesture does not necessarily assume a separation from the ongoing battles between civilians and state authority, but it extends them, repositioning them within the ambiguous frame of performance, sustaining a revolution’s open-endedness.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Theatre Arts group
Item ID: 15724
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Nesreen Hussein
Date Deposited: 05 May 2015 10:06
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2018 15:00

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.