Athens’ Shadows

Victor Merriman


This introductory essay attempts to communicate a sense of the articles and artist pages published in this Forum Kritika on Radical Cultural Responses to Crises in Urban Democracy, in the context of a symposium during which some of them were first argued. The contributors theorize relationships between art and protest, and the nature of performance, as well as critiquing interventionist performance projects, among dispatches from the front line of performance as public engagement. It also seeks to convey a sense of how culture—and especially performance—interacts, in Britain, with Project Austerity (2010-present). As culture and cultural workers, respond to neoliberalization, they are also increasingly shaped by its project of economizing public institutions, democratic processes, social services, and—some would argue—every social encounter. Influencing this critique is the mythos of Athens, as—across Europe—forces re-shape the democratic urban architecture which it has legitimised since the republican revolutions of the eighteenth century. It is in this context that artists struggle to conceptualize and enact a present public role.


aesthetics; Athens; austerity; corporations; dignity; democracy; difference; drama; global city; Global North; Global South; Liverpool; migration; neoliberalization; oppression; Tate Liverpool; theater; political precariousness; postcolonial critique

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