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Matthews, AE (2016)
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Languages: English
Types: Article
In this article, I examine my practice-as-research pieces What The Money Meant and SERVUS! in terms of how their design and delivery make visible those labour and exchange relations characteristic of late capitalism. After a brief introduction, I take the reader through theoreti-cal debates around service work’s proliferation and existing arguments about its relationship to performance, as well as Chantal Mouffe’s (2013) argument for the ‘agonistic’ potential of aesthetic activity. I move on to argue that SERVUS! provides an example of how the one-to-one performance form can both reveal reification in action and rupture or speak back to its enactment, via techniques including explicit payment, over-enunciation or ‘flourish’ and what I term affective dissonance. I then demonstrate how What The Money Meant extends these techniques by applying them across a specific scenographic design and participatory structure. What The Money Meant invites audience members to communicate with the performer by tipping, which I argue might be seen as a dramaturgical tactic of audience participation. I conclude by arguing that the performance of service, especially that which plays upon the one-to-one structure, can work ‘agonistically’ by both revealing the precarity of late capitalist labour and subverting its delivery.
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