Contemporary Street Arts in Europe: Aesthetics and Politics by S. Haedicke

By S. Haedicke

Road theatre invades a public house, shakes it up and disappears, however the reminiscence of the disruption haunts the location for audiences who adventure it. This booklet appears to be like at how the dynamic interrelationship of functionality, player and position creates a politicized aesthetic of public area that allows the general public to rehearse democratic practices.

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As Lefebvre warned, ‘the crisis of authority is but the outward appearance of a much deeper crisis which extends, beyond everyday existence, to the institutions and the state which holds them together’ (1969: 107). Celebration and struggle characterized this cultural revolution for Lefebvre as the students, in particular, reclaimed the streets and re-appropriated public spaces in their quest to refashion society. Speech manifested itself as a primary freedom, now reconquered and re-appropriated’ (1969: 119).

He puts his hands on the cash till and prays loudly as the choir sings, what he calls ‘power prayers’. His success at raising consumer awareness and intimidating the corporation is evident in the court order in California banning him from entering the premises and requiring him to remain at least two hundred and fifty yards away from the door. When Reverend Billy went to the Whitechapel Road Starbucks in London to exorcize the cash tills, he was surrounded by fifteen policemen, several police vans waited outside, and a helicopter hovered overhead.

Some angrily said he had no right to tell them not to shop; some expressed surprise that the mall was private property and not a public space; many were baffled by the event and sought clarification of the message. How could we stop all shopping was a frequent question, but with the commotion of the event that question was left unanswered. Reverend Billy does not seek to close down all shops, but rather to encourage people to abandon the mega-corporations like Starbucks, Walmart, or Tesco in favour of more ethical retail practices and to support local shops and farmers’ markets.

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