Public Sphere by Performance

Public Sphere by Performance, with Bojana Cvejic
Berlin: b_books (in cooperation with co-publisher: Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers), 2012, 2015 second edition

publ sphere front


  • Juliane Debeusscher, “Public Sphere by Performance”, Critique d’art [En ligne], 2012. Read here
  • Marko Đorđević, “Ana Vujanović, Bojana Cvejić, The Public Sphere by Performance, 2012. recenzija”, Art + Media, Journal of Art and Media Studies no. 6, 2014. Read here

About the book:

The book Public Sphere by Performance results from a two-year research project Performance and the Public that Ana Vujanović, Bojana Cvejić and Marta Popivoda carried out in 2011 and 2012, during the residency of TkH at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervillier. The part of the research of Marta Popivoda gave rise to the documentary film Yugoslavia: How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body.

The point of departure for this research is the recurrent problem of the public: the eclipse of the public sphere throughout the twentieth century as a marker of the crisis of representative democracy. The theoretical and political perspectives of this transdisciplinary research stem from the discontinuous experiences of participation in the public sphere in former socialist Yugoslavia and contemporary Western neoliberalism. The authors propose an analysis of and discussion about the public – and its discontents – through several models of mass, collective, and self-performances, such as social drama and social choreography. In numerous collaborations with artists, theoreticians, and activists in 2011, they have closely observed transversal social, artistic, and cultural artifacts and practices: movements, images,laws, habits, and discourses.

There are few questions as politically pressing as that of the public – who it is, what it desires, and perhaps more crucially, who wants to destroy it in the name of neoliberal privatisation and the “order” imposed by the state’s own image of a ‘public’ mobilised against its own people. By addressing thequestion of the public through the prism of performance, Bojana Cvejić and Ana Vujanović acutely outline the past, present and future of the ‘public’ in an era when all of its supports—the welfare state, a strong image of democracy, collective movements—have been marginalised or destroyed.

Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University, London


Part I: The Public Sphere and its Discontents

  • Chapter 1 The Eclipse of the Public
    • Mapping the public in the social field
  • Chapter 2 Can We Only Perform the Public Now?
    • Performance and action
    • Hackers of the public: Four parables
      • #1 Parrhesiast Socrates, the first known civil disobedient
      • #2 John Wilkes, or the vicissitudes of the public and personal limits to freedom of speech
      • #3 Comrade Vlado Dapčević: Ideological overidentification and its unhappy political performative
      • #4 WikiLeaks: Overlaying the political onto the public

Part II: Ideology and Mass Performances

  • Chapter 3 Materiality of Ideology
  • Chapter 4 Social Choreography
  • The origins of the idea of “social choreography”
    • The aesthetic continuum between everyday movement and dance
    • Social choreography and the political unconscious
    • Performative vs. mimetic mode of aesthetic ideology
    • Is social choreography a critical method?
    • Mass dancing and the political (un)conscious
    • Proceduralism: From performance to choreography
  • Chapter 5 Social Drama
    • Revisiting the method of social drama
    • Communitas and liminality
    • The ideological practice of communitas: Individualism and collectivism
    • Social drama in neoliberal society: The dramatic vs. the post dramatic
    • Gazimestan (Kosovo), 1989: Communitas as the negative

Film stills from the documentary film Yugoslavia: How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body, by Marta Popivoda

Part III: The Self and the Public

  • Chapter 6 Performance of the Self: A History in Theory
    • Habitus
    • Social role
    • Man as actor
    • Technologies of the self
    • Performing identity
  • Chapter 7 In the Person of the Author
    • The birth of the artist’s personality: A critical historical perspective
    • Making and doing art in The Century of the Self
    • Rethinking the person of the author: To be a person, I need the mask
  • Chapter 8 Solo Dance as a Technique of the Self
    • Emotionalism in self-expression
    • A wheel that turns on itself in a room of its own
    • Between practice and therapy

Final Remarks
Theoretical comic: Dull Smart Mobs, by Siniša Ilić and Ana Vujanović


Berlin: b_books, [2012] 2015
184 pages
ISBN: 3942214105, 9783942214100