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Young Mammals: The Politics and Aesthetics of Long-Term Collaboration with Children in Mammalian Diving Reflex’s The Torontonians

  • Broderick D. V. Chow
  • Darren O’Donnell
Chapter
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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)

Abstract

In 2006, Mammalian Diving Reflex, a performance company based in Toronto, Ontario, led by artistic director Darren O’Donnell (coauthor of this chapter), gained its first international success with the performance Haircuts by Children, which involved children as performers and facilitators. Haircuts was preceded by an earlier collaboration involving children, Diplomatic Immunities: Life at Age Nine (2005). Prior to this piece, Mammalian made performance by and for adults, involving variously or in combination, theater, solo performance, and “relational,”1 social, and socially engaged art practice.2 In Haircuts by Children, a group of students from grade five and six (ages 10–11 years) at Parkdale Public School were trained to cut hair, and gave free haircuts at four Toronto locations. Following its success in Toronto, the piece swiftly became (in the words of Mammalian’s website) “Canada’s most happening performance art export,”3 as the model, though not the same children, was subsequently seen in 27 cities from Los Angeles to Sydney.4

Keywords

Collaborative Relationship Visible Minority Succession Plan Service Economy Shared Identity 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nicolas Bourriaud defined relational art as: “a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.” Relational Aesthetics (Dijon: Les Presses du Réel, 2002), 113.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Nicholas Ridout, “Performance in the Service Economy: Outsourcing and Delegation,” in Double Agent, eds. Claire Bishop and Silvia Tramontana (London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2009), 130.Google Scholar
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    Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
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    Eleonora Belfiore and Oliver Bennett, The Social Impact of the Arts: An Intellectual History (London: Palgrave, 2010), 151–53.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    Sharon Zukin, “Gentrification: Culture and Capital in the Urban Core,” Annual Review of Sociology 13 (1987): 129–47, at 132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Katie M. Mazer and Katharine N. Rankin, “The Social Space of Gentrification: The Politics of Neighborhood Accessibility in Toronto’s Downtown West,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29:5 (2011): 822–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  13. 25.
    It is important to point out that precarious labor is hardly confined to the arts industries, but rather has become a defining factor of post-Fordist capitalist economies. See, for example, Luc Botanski and Eve Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism (London: Verso, 2005).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Gillian Arrighi and Victor Emeljanow 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Broderick D. V. Chow
  • Darren O’Donnell

There are no affiliations available

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