Individuals and Autonomists

Individuals and Autonomists

Now in my illness I see something…And how it comes to me that I am a representation. The way I suspect that I’m not well represented. That I’m not well.

This complaint was aired by the Mabou Mines theater collective in its Red Horse Animation, first performed at the Guggenheim Museum in 1970. It casually links a problem of art to a problem of democracy. Once America became overwhelmingly dependent on the mass media, both our political representatives and our dramatic representations began to seem alien to us,
although a full sense of their estrangement may come to us only in moments of doubt. The political movements of the 1960s seemed to counter the expressive power of the media in their own mass terms, but also proved to be too easily assimilable by the media. There ensued, for those who made this observation, a moment of doubt as to whether we could in fact realize democratic ideals within the mass modes. At that moment, the fact that theater is a non-mass art took on a new relevance for some of its students, trained in the collectivist ideals and improvisatory theater practices of the 1960s, and immersed in the anomalous street culture of Manhattan, where the most valued performances are the least reproducible ones.


Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

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