Something Nation: Radical Spaces of Performance in Linton Kwesi Johnson and Cris Cheek

  • Carla Harryman


In reading together the poetry and lyrics of British-Caribbean “dub poet” Linton Kwesi Johnson (who goes by the acronym LKJ)1 and the genre-defying texts and performances of interdisciplinary UK poet cris cheek,2 I propose a site of contact between two distinct creative projects. Both are based in performance and poetry, and both are grounded in opposition to the repressive Thatcher social agenda of the late 1970s through its aftermath in the 1990s. My discussion of the two artists rejects the normative perspective of the Eurocentric avant-garde and looks toward social and political conditions of rupture and fragmentation in contemporary Britain to indicate ways each artist’s work reimagines nation, community, and audience. In the work of each, the larger cultural and political context motivates the use of disruptive techniques, even as the aim or direction of their work is to engage with and appeal to popular audiences. Both cheek and Johnson reflect the interests of underrepresented audiences and encourage nonalienated public sphere participation.


Social Space Pedestrian Movement Police Brutality Disruptive Technique Popular Audience 
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  1. 4.
    See RoseLee Goldberg, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (1979; London: Thames and Hudson, 2001).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Kuan-Hsing Chen, “The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual: An Interview with Stuart Hall,” in Black British Culture and Society, ed. Kwesi Owus (London: Routledge, 2000), 408.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Humphrey Jennings and Charles Madge, Mass Observation Day Survey, May 12th 1937 (reprint ed.; London: Faber & Faber, 1987).Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    Lucy R. Lippard, The Lure of the Local (New York: New P, 1997), 10.Google Scholar
  5. 29.
    Herbert Blau, The Audience (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1990), 9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carrie Noland and Barrett Watten 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla Harryman

There are no affiliations available

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