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Art and Politics in Freetown Christiania: a Benjaminian and Brechtian Utopia?

  • Can Mert KökererEmail author
Article

Abstract

In this paper, which is positioned at the intersection of political sociology and the sociology of art, I discuss the implications of political art at the local level. I show how analyzing an existing example of locally engaged political art would contribute to the comprehension of the relationship between art and politics in contemporary societies. I employ a single case study, Freetown Christiania, in order to reveal the role of local artistic engagement in bringing about political outcomes, and in particular, relative autonomy at the local level. Though this study is solely focused on one community which has emerged within a specific context and time, it provides a unique lens to describe the relevance and potential of locally engaged political art for broader society. I utilize Freetown Christiania as an example of Benjaminian and Brechtian utopia in order to showcase how their micro-level artistic engagement has brought about relative autonomy at the local level. In particular, I describe the function of local artistic engagement in Freetown Christiania, especially their theatre group Solvognen (The Sun Chariot), as a unique artistic enterprise which has surpassed Benjamin’s and Brecht’s elaborations of the role of political art in modern societies through the employment of the elements of the avant-garde and postdramatic theatre. I argue that this peculiar combination of Benjaminian and Brechtian forms of political art on the one hand, and the avant-garde and postdramatic theatre on the other, has enabled them to create and sustain this micro-utopia in a neoliberal capitalist order.

Keywords

Political art Brecht Benjamin Freetown Christiania The Sun Chariot Utopia Avant-garde Postdramatic Theatre Neoliberal capitalism 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of national research committee in Denmark and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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