Collaboration, democracy and the total artwork

Kolb, Alexandra (2015) Collaboration, democracy and the total artwork. In: Collaboration in Performance Practice: Premises, Workings and Failures. Colin, Noyale and Sachsenmaier, Stefanie ORCID logoORCID:, eds. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 51-74. ISBN 9781137462459, e-ISBN 9781137462466, pbk-ISBN 9781349556380. [Book Section] (doi:10.1057/9781137462466_3)


This chapter examines 20th-century collaborative practices and discourses in the performing arts – primarily dance – through the lens of composer Richard Wagner’s notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk. The total artwork, expounded in Wagner’s mid-19th-century landmark writings on art’s role in society, was seen as the artistic enactment of a democratic political organisation, with Wagner drawing correlations between artistic and political reform. The chapter shows how Wagner’s objectives can be usefully applied to, and take form in, postmodern dance, tracing a critical genealogy through Bertolt Brecht and the Cunningham-Cage collaboration to the postmodern work of Yvonne Rainer and Pina Bausch, before concluding with an outlook on today’s radical collaborations. Throughout the chapter, different collaborative practices are related to distinct conceptions of democracy.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Dance group
Item ID: 16230
Notes on copyright: © 2016
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Alexandra Kolb
Date Deposited: 22 May 2015 09:29
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2021 00:46

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