Performance in an Age of Permacrisis

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaper



Performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña claimed at the start of the decade that “Performance as an artistic ‘genre’ is in a constant state of crisis, and is therefore an ideal medium for articulating a time of permanent crisis such as ours” (Dangerous Border Crossers, London: Routledge, 2000: 9). The term permacrisis overtook polycrisis in 2022 as a descriptor of multiple challenges that occur constantly. This paper explores performance-making as responsive, discursive and activist in relation to a state of permacrisis. From the turn of the century to the present there has been political instability caused by 9/11, the financial crisis and its fall out, the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum followed by the Brexit vote which led to the UK leaving the EU in 2020. The refugee crisis, global COVID-19 pandemic, white supremacy, war in Europe and worsening climate crisis are all part of a culture of permacrisis that performance makers and artists have been responding to. This paper asks, what can art do? Using case studies of contemporary performances, I argue that performance practitioners have responded to the context, both as the impetus for the creation of new work, its subject matter, and as a tool to encourage political and social change.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 26 Sept 2023
EventINTERFACEing 2023. Changing Paradigms: Humanities in the Age of Crisis. - Japan, Kobe, Japan
Duration: 24 Sept 202326 Sept 2023


ConferenceINTERFACEing 2023. Changing Paradigms: Humanities in the Age of Crisis.

Author keywords

  • performance; activist art; permacrisis; political performance