s h o p


S t a t e m e n t

B i o g

P r e s s

M a i l i n g L i s t

D o n a t e !

M i s c

C o n t a c t

A r c h i v e

G a l l e r y

F a m e A s y l u m A r c h i v e

A c a d e m i a N u t s

L i n k s

H o m e

d v d




Each EscalatorChair comes with a dvd of Richard Dedomenici riding it on the nearest Escalator to where you live.

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £1000.00 including delivery.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

New! 'Too Boring For Shoreditch' Badge

Thanks again to the anonymous commenter who inspired this slogan. Do contact with your name and address so that you can be financially compensated for this unexpectedly popular product.

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £2.00 + p&p

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

Name Stickers

Indispensible at art festivals, conferences, funerals and other formal social occasions.

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £2.00 + p&p for a pack of 12.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

Richard Dedomenici Is Still An Artist

This book acts as a primer for those who know nothing of my work.

2006, 36 Pages, Full Colour, Softback with Spine, A6 Size.
Limited Edition of 500. Hand-Numbered by the artist with his left hand.
Published by Arnolfini. Distributed by Cornerhouse.

Available from Unbound

Intelligence Failure

A small book compiling some of my previous projects pertaining to the War on Terror.

2005, 32 Pages, Numbered Limited Edition of 4000.
Sample Page:

Warning: Approximately 33% of the content of this book is freely available on, albeit less elegantly.

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £3.00 plus p+p.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

All of Richard's other books are out of print until he can find a publisher.

While you're waiting, why not distract yourself with some:

Genuine London Bus Lane

The fragments contained within this packet were loosened only after relentless exposure to to unwieldy Routemaster buses with big dirty tyres.

Wash your hands after use.

Do not eat.

'It's a bit like owning a piece of the Berlin Wall, only less prestigious.'
Richard Dedomenici

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £2.00 a bag plus p+p.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

'Touched By Michael Jackson' Badge

'Touched by Michael Jackson,
I'm touched by Michael Jackson.
I'm incredibly touched by the words that he sings,
and the love that he brings.
Postpone your legal action,
coz I'm touched by Michael Jackson.
He Thrills me in quite a Dangerous way,
but it's ok.'

Richard Dedomenici 2003

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £2.00 each plus p+p.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

'Kylie For Pope' Badge

It would be a win/win situation: It would hugely boost album sales amongst churchgoers, thereby firmly establishing Kylie's status as a global icon, while at the same time popularising catholicism with that notoriously difficult to reach pre-teen demographic, who are, after all, the opinion formers of tomorrow.

Badge can be altered in emergency to cause less umbrage by tippexing out the 'e' in Pope.

(Please Note. Actual image quality is of a higher quality than in the above illustration)

Available from Richard Dedomenici Products for £2.00 each plus p+p.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!


My recent debut solo gallery show Normalisation of Deviance at Pump House Gallery, London resulted in many works available for purchase. Here is some footage:

Here are some descriptions of work available for sale:

Escalator Chair

EscalatorChair is an functionless art object, unless placed upon an escalator, at which point it becomes a practical piece of furniture. Each EscalatorChair comes with a dvd of Richard Dedomenici riding it on the nearest escalator to where you live, or one of your choice.

Available for £1000 including delivery.

Political Table Football

Following the success of my Political Top Trumps card game, I present a new solution to the problem voter apathy amongst young people - modifying the players of a football table to resemble members of parliament. It is envisaged that Political Table Football could also be used by MP's to settle minor political disputes, thereby speeding up the legislative process.


Red Elastic Band Sphere

Over the past two years I have collected 2557 red elastic bands, discarded on the pavement by Royal Mail postmen. My Red Elastic Band Sphere currently measures 14cm in diameter and weighs 1.483kg. (Each band weighs 0.58g.) People that have donated bands to the sphere so far will get a proportionate cut of the price in the event of a sale. I am willing to sell Red Elastic Band Sphere at a cost of £1 a band, which currently puts the price of the work at £2557 (includies weighing machine)

And here is a video from the installation process of my most ambitious sculpture PlateSmasher:

The following letter explains the background to the piece:

The Greek Ambassador
Embassy of Greece
1A Holland Park
W11 3TP

24 November 2003

Dear Mr Ambassador,

Attached is a picture of my Prototype Platesmashing Machine, designed to automate what I’m sure you’ll agree is a great Greek tradition.

For a limited period only, Richard Dedomenici Products are able to offer you the rights to this technology, in exchange for the release of the Thessaloniki Seven, currently on hunger strike following their arrest on the 21st June.

Write back and we can discuss terms.

I await your swift reply,

Richard Dedomenici


Postscipt: The Thessaloniki Seven were released the day after my letter arrived at the Greek Embassy.

PlateSmasher comes complete with 120 unglazed plates. Includes microphone and leads to attach to amplification system (not included). Platesmasher is refrigerated and includes internal fluorescent lighting.

Weight when empty: 265 kilograms
Dimensions: W x 74 D x 87 H x 183cm

Platesmasher generated revenues of over £50 during it's installation at PumpHouse Gallery. At this rate the work could be profit-making within four years, given PlateSmasher's selling price of £2000 including delivery.

That's everything currently available. There is also a small range of merchandise available by visiting and clicking on Shop.

Do let me know if you have any questions. I'm sure I could offer a discount for multiple purchases.

Arrange a visit to Studio DeDomenici (StuDiomenici)



Variable Capital, May/Jun 08. I have been asked to make a live intervention as part of this show at Bluecoat, Liverpool.
Eurovision Marathon, May 08. My planned attempt to watch every Eurovision Song Contest back to back without sleep.
Culturail, Apr 08. An ambitious new project in collaboration with Chelsea Theatre.
Post-Avant-Garde Activism, 08 Mar 08. I will be giving a talk on this topic at Tate Modern, London.
National Review of Live Art, 07-10 Feb 08. I will be making new works 'J'accuse!', and "Priya Pathak: Epilogue" in Glasgow.
ARCO, Feb 08. Screening of short film on the topic of 'Live Art and the Art Market' in Madrid.
I Am A ThinkTank, Feb-Apr 08. I will be leading this ten-week educational project in association with Artsadmin.
Disturbing Perception and the Rules of Public Areas, Jan 08. Essay published in new book by Lieux Publics, Marseille.

Sirens and Emergency Services, 14 Dec 07. I will be singing 99 Red Balloons, while inhaling helium from a red balloon.
Greenham Common Residency, Dec 07. At the former American nuclear airbase in Berkshire.
Open Nights, 19 Nov 07. I spoke about Fame Asylum at this discussion about performance that involving vulnerable groups at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 19 Oct 07. At the Central School of Speech and Drama, London.
Third Life, 8/9 Oct 07. Exeter Phoenix commissioned me to make a series of unrealised works in Second Life.
Richard DeDomenici's Caipirinha/Crap Karaoke Club Challenge, 15 Sep 07. New performance at New Work Network's 10th Birthday Party.
Check In/Check Out, 14/15 Sep 07. I did six performances at this Live Art UK event at the Great Eastern Hotel, London.
Foreign Muck, 09 Sep 07. I did vocals at this rare gig by the live art supergroup at Arnolfini, Bristol
SuperJumbo, 17-25 Aug 07. I took my new show to The Fringe as part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 24 Jul 07. At the Louise T Blouin Foundation, London.
Rub Me Up The Wrong Way, 20 Jul 07. I was invited to curate a live art festival as part of Contemporary Art Norwich.
Latitude Festival, 12-15 Jul 07. I performed SuperJumbo on friday night, and did a lecture/BetterBanner workshop/PolyDemo on Saturday morning. Chilled on Sunday (© C. David).
Hazard, 07 Jul 07, I performed my street performance Tag at this Manchester International Festival fringe event.
The Last Gasp, 30 Jun 07. I performed at this smoking ban related event at Colchester Arts Centre.
Celebrating Sanctuary, 17 Jun 07. I made a new work at this Refugee Week festival on London's South Bank.
SuperJumbo, 15 Jun 07. Part of the Summer Season, Artsadmin, London.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 24 May 07. At Pump House Gallery.
May Day Festival, 07 May 07. I held a BetterBanner workshop and PolyDemo at this event in Battersea Park.
Normalisation of Deviance, 19 Apr - 28 May 07. Debut solo gallery show at Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London. Part of The Art of Protest.
Embracing Failure, 04 Apr 07. At Plymouth College of Art and Design.
Project-V, Apr-Jun 07. I was one of six transatlantic participants in this pioneering vlogging experiment.
CAT Show, 14 - 18 Mar 07. I performed an early preview of SuperJumbo at this show comprising of alumni from Cardiff School of Art.
Performing Rights Vienna, 8 - 10 Mar 07. I am artist-in-residence at this human rights event at Tanzquartier, Austria.
Embracing Failure, 16 Feb 07. At Watford Camera Club, Watford.
If You See Something, Say Something, 07 Feb - 03 Mar 07. Group show in Sydney, Australia.
System Error, 03 Feb - 06 May. Group show at Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena
N.S.C.A.D Residency, 19 - 26 Jan 07. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
So Sad.. 13 - 20 Jan 07. Group show at the Guy Hilton Gallery, London, curated by Mark McGowan.
Media Attention, 06 Jan - 10 Feb 07. Three artists curated by Cassandra Needham at G39, Cardiff.

Tulca, 15 - 30 Nov 06. I was artist-in-residence at this season of visual arts in Galway, Ireland.
Rational Rec, 07 Nov 06. I was the quizmaster of an art quiz at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 24 Oct 06. Unexpected sell-out of 192 capacity Exeter Phoenix.
Power of Art, Oct - Dec 06. Series of short web films commissioned by the BBC2 to coincide with Simon Schama series.
Black Cylinder Gallery, 12 - 15 Oct 06. Long-awaited official launch of the gallery inside my wristwatch at Frieze Art Fair.
DaDao Live Art Festival, Oct 06. I was one of two artists sent by Live Art UK to make work in Beijing, China.
Repatriating the Ark, 21 Sep 06. I participated in this group exhibition at the Museum of Garden History, Lambeth.
Making Love To My Ego, 10 Aug - 24 Sep 07. I exhibited two works in this show at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 06 - 28 Aug 06. Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh.
There’s Something I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You, 28 - 30 Jul. Group Show at Space Station Sixty-five, Dulwich.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? Jul 06. Tour of New York City and Madison, Wisconsin.
Latitude Festival, 13 - 16 Jul. I did a performance and a lecture at this outdoor festival in Sussex.
EuroShame, 01 Jul 06. I represented Estonia at this Duckie event at The Coronet, Elephant & Castle.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 28 Jun 06. Arnolfini, Bristol.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 09 Jun 06. Pulse Festival, Ipswich
Fame Asylum, May - Jun 06. Project to form an asylum seeker boyband for Refugee Week, Channel Four and PSi#12.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 04 - 05 May 06. At BAC, London.
Embracing Failure, 25 Apr 06. At South Bank University, London.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 16 Mar 06. At The Bishopsgate Foundation, London
Day-to-Day Data, 10 Mar - 23 Apr 06. I exhibited new work at this group show at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery in London.
Embracing Failure, 27 Feb 06. At Camberwell Art College, London.
Full Bleed, 22 - 25 Feb 06. I performed at this week of live events in Colchester.
Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? 15 Feb 06. New lecture at old art school in Cardiff, Wales.
National Review of Live Art, 08 - 12 Feb 06. I was artist-in-residence at this annual event in Glasgow.
Inbetween Time 01 - 05 Feb 06. I was writer in residence at the Arnolfini, Bristol and made work at this festival.
Failure To Do So Is An Offence, 23 Jan - 02 Feb 06. I exhibited a new sculpture as part of this group show in Hamburg.

Baltic, 01 Dec 05. Preview of my new lecture in Newcastle.
De La Warr Pavillion, Nov 05. I’ll be installing a crazy golf course in the refurbished listed Modernist building.
Brunel University, 23 Oct 05. Preview of my new lecture in Uxbridge.
Embracing Failure, 10 Nov 05. Norwich
Chronic Epoch, Oct 05. I will be making work as part of Beaconsfield’s ten year anniversary celebrations.
Live Art from China, 27 Oct 05. Launch of my new Political Top Trumps game at this event at the Arnolfini in Bristol.
Embracing Failure, 30 Sep 05. Selected for the Creative Places + Spaces Conference in Toronto, Canada
Art and Money, 26 Aug 05. I showed work at this live-art evening organised by Home at the V&A in London.
Pedestrian Congestion Charging, Aug 05. A new anarcho-surrealist street intervention at the Edinburgh Festival.
Embracing Failure, Jul 05. A short run ‘Off Off Broadway’ in New York.
Stay, Jun 30 05. Site-specific installation and performance as part of group show at Great Eastern Hotel, London.
Embracing Failure, 25 Jun 05. Belfast
Embracing Failure, 14 Jun 05. Exeter Phoenix.
Unattended Baggage, May 05. A dangerous new street performance outside Helsinki railway station in Finland.
Embracing Failure, 28 Apr 05. Cambridge Junction.
Do Not Interrupt Your Activities, Apr 05. Group show at The Royal College of Art, London.
Spend and Make, 01 Mar 05. I was invited to produce work in a Homebase car park in Essex.
Embracing Failure, 18 - 19 Jan 05. Sell-out at BAC London.

CowBoard, 4 Dec 04. Second performance of my new lecture at the International 3 Gallery in Manchester.
Guardians of Doubt, Nov 04. I was asked to adapt my lecture ‘Embracing Failure’ for publication.
Full Bleed, 4 Nov 04. I performed at this night of off-the wall music, poetry and performance art in Colchester.
Liverpool Biennial, Oct 04. Invited to make new street performance and give lecture at Bluecoat Gallery.
Lab of Insurrectionary Imagination, 15 Oct 04. I made a new work ‘The Big Flyposter Draw’ at this event.
Express Excess, 6 Oct 04. Supporting Marcus Birdman at London’s leading spoken-work night.
Anti, Sept 04. I was commissioned to make a new performance at this festival in Kuopio, Finland.
Sexed-Up, 11 Sep 04. Updated version of my lecture, given as part of Arches Live! season in Glasgow.
East to Edinburgh, Aug 04. Commissioned to produce 650 pieces of official merchandise.
Duckie, 7 Aug 04. An invitation to perform at this popular night at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
Express Excess, 9 Jun 04. I was the support act for John Hegley at the Enterprise, Chalk Farm.
Embracing Failure, 18 May 04. At Brunel University.
The Future of Science Education, May 04. Creative Partnerships commission to produce 16-page book.
Embracing Failure, 5 May 04. Two lectures in one day at Eyebeam and Wooster Collective in New York.
Version04, 16 Apr - 1 May 04. Annual Chicago art festival at which I presented a portfolio of new work.
Wonderful, Feb - Oct 04. Arnolfini commission to design an interface to enable cows to access the internet.
Apples and Snakes, 16 Jan 04. Spoken-word showcase at Battersea Arts Centre.

Sexed-Up, 20 Nov 03. The first British performance of my Edinburgh Festival lecture.
Express Excess, 29 Oct 03. Ten-minute-long performance at London’s leading spoken-work night.
Embracing Failure, 13 Sep 03. For the Live Art Development Agency at Queen Mary, London.
Embracing Failure, 13 Aug 03. At the Wellcome Trust in London
East to Edinburgh, Aug 03. I was East England Arts’ artist-in-residence at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Queens’ School Activities Week, 6 - 7 Jul 03. Asked by my old school to talk to students/make interventions.
Fierce!, 05 Jun 03. I performed my Watford lecture at the Birmingham Playhouse theatre.
Stop Shopping Tour, 09 - 20 May 03. UK tour of anglo-American anti-consumerist artists.
Museum of Domestic Culture, 24 Apr 03. Opening-night performance at this North London venue
Writing DNA, April - Aug 03. Attempt to turn coal into diamonds for Wellcome Trust/TwoTen Gallery.
Pilau Talk, March - Apr 03. Anglia Television’s late-night topical news quiz set in an Indian restaurant.
Embracing Failure, 18 Mar 03. Invitation from New Work Network to give a lecture at Brunel University.
National Review of Live Art, 19 - 23 Feb 03. Asked back to show what I’d been up to, one year on.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous 02. BBC Wales awarded script development money to my short film idea.
Fix, 5 - 8 Dec 02. I was chosen to perform and exhibit at this year’s live art extravaganza in Belfast.
DIY, 03 Dec 02. Professional development project for artists. Artsadmin, LADA, NWN collaboration.
6 Of The Best, 26 Nov 02. I was nominated best newcomer in televised art awards ceremony.
Pro-Capitalist Protest, 1 Nov 03. Annual ironic one-man demonstration staged in Oxford Circus.
THE FACE Internship, 28 Oct - 15 Nov 02. Three-week work placement at now defunct London magazine.
eXpo, 24 - 27 Oct 02. Premier of new performance Dayskipper at this year’s event in Nottingham.
Live Art In The East - Platform, 13 Oct 02. I made a new work, Mint, at this event in Colchester.
Experimentica, 02 - 06 Oct 02. I was asked back to Cardiff to produce new performance Maglez.
The Lo-fi Show, 29 Sep - 01 Oct 02. Invited to Belfast to design the catalogue for Catalyst Arts group show.
East End Collaborations, 27 Sep 02. My Watford lecture was included in this platform event.
Spend, Spend, Spend. 14 Sep 02. Day of action organized by culture jammers Fanclub, filmed by the BBC.
East2Edinburgh, 14 Aug 02. Exhibited my books at Arts Council event at Edinburgh Festival.
The £300 Show 27 - 28 Jul 02. Colchester Arts Centre challenged me to spend £300 in 24 hours.
Hem, 26 Jul 02. Art festival on the streets of Exeter, the latest stop on my Party of One UK tour.
Domestically Spaced, 12 Jul, 04 Aug 02. Two toilet paper-based performances at gallery in East Dulwich.
Special School, 14 Jun 02. Attempt to make a telephone call using a piano at Global Café event in Soho.
Vain, 13 Jun 02. Outdoor performance at Oxford’s annual live art showcase.
Observable Occurrences, 8 - 9 Jun 02. Co-organizer of this two-day street-art festival in East London.
Well Rounded Individual II, 3 - 4 Jun 02. Circle line circumnavigation, breaking previous record of 18 hours.
Flaming Nora, May – Dec 02. Epic ensemble tour of street art, visiting eight towns in the east of England.
Fabbrica Europa, 12 - 21 May 02. I was asked to attend a festival in Florence, about the myth of Europe.
Doing Time, 10 - 12 May 02. Art festival held in Dundee, at which I performed Lazy Student..
National Review of Live Art, 13 - 17 Feb 02. International platform for live art, staged in Glasgow.
Watford: tWTmF, 8 Feb 02. Lecture at the Windmill Pub, Brixton, explaining why Watford should be granted city status.
Day of the Unread, 16 - 28 Jan 02. A library of unpublished books exhibited at Waterstone’s Piccadilly.

The Long Night, 10 Dec 01. Event staged by Cardiff collective Umbrella, at which I juggled with eggs.
Grander Shadow, 8 - 15 Dec 01. Group show of UWIC graduates, included one of my kinetic sculptures.
eXpo, 8 - 10 Nov 01. I was selected to exhibit work as part of Nottingham’s annual NOW festival.
Experimentica, 19 - 21 Oct 01. I was invited to show work at the festival hosted by Chapter, Cardiff.


Date Sep 98 - Jun 01 School University of Wales Institute Cardiff Course BA (Hons) Fine Art Grade First


This Is Richard’s Mission Statement

Richard Dedomenici is a one-man subversive think-tank primarily dedicated to the development and implementation of innovative strategies designed to undermine accepted belief systems and topple existing power structures.

By approaching the limits of conventionally acceptable behaviour, Richard Dedomenici’s poetic acts of low-grade civil disobedience forcibly ask pertinent questions of society, while his subtle anarcho-surrealist interventions create the kind of uncertainty that leads to possibility.


As part of the ongoing professionalisation of his artistic practice Richard is thinking about refurbishing his Mission Statement, and, moreover, subcontracting the job to a third party.


Do you think you can succinctly clarify the unifying theme of Richard's work?

If so, email your proposal, with the subject header ‘Rewriting Other Peoples Manifestoes', to

All entries will be displayed below, and the winner will receive a 'special' prize.

Date: 02 March 2006

How about this ?


Richard Comments: Yes, quite good, but whilst I'm all for brevity, I need something that will sufficiently differentiate me from other artists.

Date: 03 March 2006

Mission statement: "To be recognised as the leading children's entertainer in the Hertfordshire area*".

* Dedomenici worked for several years as an undercover agent for the Department for Social Uniformity, fostering an image as a political dissident and social anarchist. Known simply as Agent D he successfully infiltrated extremist groups with baffling acts of public disobedience and was directly responsible for closing seven festivals, issuing 89 ASBOs and "removing" two Turner Prize nominees. This sham came to a close in 2006 as a result of the Freedom of Information Act (2000), precipitated by a written request from probing Guardian journalist Jan Reese. Dedomenici describes his move into light entertainment as a career evolution rather than revolution - "I can tolerate kids, and the money's reasonable".

Richard Comments: A few factual errors, but still too close to the sworded, painful truth, sorry.

Date: 27 October 2006

Richard Dedomenici is in a still space standing in an invisible catalyst he is metallic with a squidgy soft centre and shoots off shards of this metallic pink soft squidgy stuff into walls of preoccupation causing them to split and squirm like ice. He is in the business of antimatter and its definitely in the right hands.

In any case he can certainly tickle and he has very long arms.

Richard Comments: This is my favourite one yet - but it doesn't win a prize, as it was obviously written by a robot. Keep 'em coming!

From :
Sent : 22 November 2006

One day, while following the dead end trail of yet another piece of so-called 'art', he tumbled down the rickety stairs of the basement where all supposed art is made and laid to rest. It was empty.

After cleverly concluding that there's no such thing as art anyway, Richard decided a much worthier pursuit would be to descend the depths of other people's basements in search of that ever elusive dusty cardboard dressing-up box of contemporary creative action.


Richard Comments: It's too soon to say. I'm still trying to come to terms with your central premise that there's no such thing as art.

Date: 23 February 2007

Richard Dedomenici is a unique individual. In addition to having three heads, numerous imposters and a huge reptilean following (mainly in the Galapagos Islands), he is a sartorial guru with an exceptional ability to find the negative in any social situation. Moreover, he is physically and psychologically very flexible. These traits make him an excellent artist to work with as he can bow down to commissioners before scrunching himself up into a small ball to be inserted into a briefcase and brought to funding application meetings. Above all, Richard Dedomenici represents good value for money, labour-wise (i.e. in UK speak, he is cheap).

Richard Comments: Oh, that may be the best one, actually. The competition's not over yet though. Interesting you should mention the reptiles; the man behind the ticket desk at Watford Junction recently compared my work to that of David Icke. History does not record my response.

From :
Sent : 10 March 2006

Richard Dedomenici is going bald. His new practice is primarily dedicated to the development and implementation of innovative new strategies designed to underpin and expand existing hair structures.

By approaching the limits of conventionally accepted hairdressing, Ricahard Dedomenici's poetic acts of low-grade follicile manipulation ask pertinent questions of the barber community, while his subtle anarcho-surrealist hair styles create the kind of uncertainty that leads to comb-overs.

Richard Comments: How dare you.

From :
Sent : 12 May 2007

Be a cunt desperate to get his arse kissed by other cunts. create 'art' that reinforces the idea that artists are wankers.

Richard Comments: This is more like it, although these days many institutions frown upon the repeated use of the word "cunt". Perhaps you could rework your submission, replacing one of the cunts with a twat, prick, or jobby-jobby-plop-plop?

From :
Sent : 19 October 2007

Everything is this. Everything is that. Nothing is this, that and the other is everything. And nothing.

Richard will piss on everything, and nothing that suggests a fixture of these states. :D

Richard Comments: This is the kind of high standard that I've come to expect from Central School of Speech and Drama students. I like it very much, Megan, particularly the emoticon, which I think adds a satisfyingly existential denouement. My only concern is that I don't really understand the bits before the emoticon.

It is imperative that I fully understand my own artistic statement.

Please advise.


Little is known about Richard Dedomenici's childhood, except for that, when he was eleven, he won the BBC Newsroom Southeast London Marathon Poster Competition. His winning poster showed the runners passing the new South Quay Plaza building in Docklands. For a time Richard fostered dreams of becoming an architect, but the economic downturn in the nineties convinced him that a career in obscure conceptual art would be much more prudent. By 1996 the building in his poster had been destroyed by an IRA bomb, taking with it Richard’s architectural ambitions.

In 2001 Richard graduated with a first class degree in Fine Art from Cardiff School of Art. Final-year projects included 'Postal', which comprised sending unwrapped banknotes to himself to test the security of the postal system; ‘Well Rounded Individual’ which involved riding around the Circle Line for 43 hours during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee; and a performance entitled 'Break-In': 'See Richard attempt to Break-In to Cardiff Prison, thereby Break-In the law, but hopefully not Break-In his legs’ read the press release. ‘I am arresting you for aggravated trespass’ said the police. All charges were subsequently dropped.

Richard’s first post-graduate project involved the blowing up of balloons inside a public telephone box until there was no room to blow up balloons anymore. The performance, entitled 'Party of One', was a protest against BT's decision to stop expanding its phonebox network and was selected for the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow.

As a consequence, Richard was asked to blow up balloons in telephone boxes extensively around the country, These performance contributed to Richard's nomination for Best New Artist in Anglia Television’s 'Six of The Best' Awards 2002, which, despite voting for himself several hundred times, he failed to win. He was, however, interviewed by Andrew Linford, who used to play Tiffany’s gay brother Simon in Eastenders, which meant more to Richard than £10, 000 in prize money ever could.

Buoyed by the nomination, Richard attempted a series of increasingly ambitious projects, including an endeavour to turn coal into diamonds for the Wellcome Trust, which failed; seeking to train the guns if HMS Belfast onto his mother’s house in Watford, which failed; and trying to design an interface to enable cows to access the internet for the Arnolfini in Bristol, which failed. His experiences inspired the inexplicably popular touring lecture 'Embracing Failure'.

The lecture was recently performed ‘Off Off Broadway’ in New York, and, despite missing most of the cultural references, was well received by audiences.

‘Hovering on that fine line between originality and sheer lunacy.’
Blueprint, May ‘03

‘Consistently Funny’
The Guardian, Jan ‘05

'Completely Unfunny'
Leader, Daily Mail, Aug '03

‘Resolutely enjoyable art... his future is bright”
Arena, April ‘05

‘Frighteningly Effective’
The Guardian, August ’05


Time Out London 12 October 2005

Guardian Article 10 August 2005

Guardian Article 13 July 2005

Arena Magazine April 2005

Guardian Article 17January 2005

Sunday Herald Review 19 September 2004

Sexed-Up - The Arches, Glasgow (four stars out of five)

There's satire of a tidier sort in Richard Dedomenici’s Sexed-Up: A Study Into The Potential Threat Posed By Weapons Of Mass Destruction Lying Dormant In Our Midst. The 20-something performer’s work lies on the cusp between theatre and comedy. Imagine a cross between Dave Gorman and Mark Thomas, and you have something approximating Dedomenici.

His hour-long performance takes the shape of an illustrated lecture, using a variety of video footage and props to convey his earnest attempts to alert the British state to the very real dangers of its own equipment being used by terrorists.

Dedomenici caused some controversy at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, when he gave lectures on the possibility of a cannon at the Castle being utilised by al-Qaeda to attack the Holyrood parliament. He made himself equally popular with the authorities when he suggested creating a performance in which the gun turret of HMS Belfast (which is anchored in the Thames as a tourist attraction) would be rotated to prove that terrorists could use it to attack his mother’s house in Watford. He tried a similar stunt at a US military visitor centre, but was put off by all the men with firearms.
Beneath Dedomenici’s laid-back affability there are some explosive implications. By suggesting that even the obsolete weapons of the tourist industry might come in handy for terrorists, he cleverly subverts the fears of evil-doers getting their hands on US or UK weapons of mass destruction. The result is a wonderfully absurd satire of David Blunkett’s contribution to the much-vaunted “war on terror”, and a penetrating questioning of the very definition of “terrorism”.

Reviewed by Mark Brown


To join Richard Dedomenici's Mailing List send a message reading 'Please can I join your mailing list?', or somesuch, to:


Are you, or are have you ever considered becoming, a generous benefactor to the arts?

Do you conduct most of your online financial transactions whilst drunk?

If so, welcome.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

In exchange for your patronage you will get your name listed below in oversized gold italics.

Richard Dedomenici gratefully acknowledges the philanthropy of the following individuals and organisations:

David Greg Harth, New York, £5.00

Alexander Clifford, Milton Keynes, 10p

James Johnson

Kester Per

Håkan Jakub

Bas Aurelio

Hamish Tahir

Eerikki Innes


The Big Flyposter Draw 15th October 2004
The major music companies save over eight million pounds annually by advertising on illegal flyposting sites.

Graffitiing something that has itself been illegally stuck to the wall theoretically isn’t illegal.

Traditionally, graffiti has been the preserve of nocturnal adolescents.

I advocate flyposter graffiti as an exciting new legal pastime for the whole community, which will both unleash the creative potential of the population, as well as discouraging the use of flyposters by major corporations.

I say ‘theoretically’ because I haven’t conclusively checked.

Risk is an important aspect of my artistic practice.

But it may not be of yours.

So please don’t take part if you feel uncomfortable about the possibility of unintentionally breaking the law, and all that implies.

And don’t take part if you’re worried about getting paint on your clothes.

Oh, and don’t get any paint on the wall or pavement - because that would be vandalism.

Made for The Laboratory of insurrectionary Imagination

Liverpool Biennial 21st October 2004
The day after Boris Johnson's stage-managed visit to Liverpool I dressed up as the aforementioned tory buffoon and wandered the city saying sorry to all those Liverpudlians that didn't get to meet him in person.

Some accepted my apology, others threatened to break my legs.

What Richard did in America April 2004

World Trade Jenga
Richard Dedomenici's sculpture 'WTJ' is a scale model of the World Trade Centre assembled from 198 wooden Jenga blocks, individually hand coloured with a marker pen.

Cable Tie
Dedomenici's solo attempt to navigate Chicago with a plastic bag on his head and his hands tethered behind his back with a nylon cable tie - the US military’s brutally efficient method of choice for detaining illegal combatants.

Cable-Tie video: Dial-up or Broadband

Grid Reference
A guided tour of the Scottish city of Glasgow, albeit on the streets of Chicago, achieved by overlaying maps of both cities‚ grid-pattern street layouts.

Quit Your Flapping (Part 2)
In this yet-to-be-edited film, Richard Dedomenici attempts to disprove Chaos Theory (popular example thereof: a butterfly flaps its wings in New York and causes a tidal wave in Tokyo) by dressing up as a butterfly, flapping his wings in New York, and then phoning the Japanese coastguard to see if any tidal waves have actually struck.

Richard went to America with My Dad's Strip Club and The Vacuum Cleaner. Collectively they made work at the Version04 festival.

Gulf Sale 19 Nov 2003
Today, in a cunning attempt to bypass police cordons around Buckingham Palace and Downing Street, I carried a seemingly innocuous 'GOLF SALE' placard around Central London:

Once past police barricades, and at a moment's notice, the slogan can be transformed into the more incendiary 'GULF SALE'

(a reference to the lucrative post-war reconstruction contracts, funded by revenue from Iraqi oil reserves, that have been handed to US corporations with close links to the Bush administration.)

From benign-sign to asinine-sign in a flick of the wrist:

One of the banner's innovations is that it can be easily dismantled to enable convenient public transportation:

Unfortunately, the tubular arrangement of the banner's collapsible pole caused suspicion amongst security services at Buckingham Palace, who thought I may be about to launch a crude pipebomb attack at the Royal residence.

I realised that any attempt to erect my sign may result in being shot in the head by one of the four police marksmen on the roof of the Palace.

I had therefore discovered a flaw in my hypothesis.

Scared, I walked into St James' Park and decided to erect my banner in the presence of a policeman on a bike.

He was impressed, and said I should patent the design

The banner cost about five pounds to build, and is the first prototype in my research project to design an lightweight, ultra-portable, protest banner for the 21st Century.

Photography: Luci Briginshaw


Karaoke at Latitude Festival 15 July 2006

Tramway Evacuation Video 12 February 2006

Temporarily removed.

There Go The UK's Greenhouse Emission Targets 12 December 2005

Duckie 29 Oct 2005

Richard (right) gets his blue shirt covered in blue paint by a Blue Man (left), following an impromptu performance at the Vauxhall Tavern. Richard appears not to mind, it being his own fault for standing at the front without a raincoat.

Photograph: Blue Man Group

Tooting Station 15 Oct 2005

Is this woman you? If so contact for a reward.

Photograph/Jumper: Luci Briginshaw



Unofficial Gallery Launch
Official Gallery Launch

The Black Cylinder Gallery is an independently run artspace housed within Richard Dedomenici's wristwatch. The gallery has housed twelve exhibitions since its inaugeration in 2002.

Dedomenici purchased his oversized wristwatch from Woolworths for £2.99 at the end of the last millennium. Originally designed to hold chewing gum, the watches was soon withdrawn from sale after it emerged that they were being repurposed by teenagers to sneak ecstasy pills into nightclubs. Dedomenici, in contrast, used his watch to keep an Earl Grey teabag, because sometimes when he went round someone's house for tea and they didn't have any Earl Grey it could be a bit of a social faux pas. Disaster struck in late 2001 when, whilst drunk in a kebab shop in New Cross, South London, some girls filled his watch with kebab meat, potato and onions. By the time Dedomenici woke up the next afternoon the foodstuff had solidified into a greasy mass. Despite diligently cleaning out the interior of the watch, from that day forward the delicate taste of Dedomenici's Earl Grey tea was sullied by a meaty/oniony aftertaste. Hence the visionary decision was taken to convert the interior of the watch into a contemporary artspace.

The approximate maximum dimensions of the gallery are: height 1.5cm x diameter 2.5cm.

Due to the nomadic nature of the Black Cylinder Gallery, there is a list of criteria of things that, under current security restrictions, may not be exhibited:

* Liquids including gels, pastes, lotions, liquid/solid mixtures
* Sharp objects
* Radioactive and Explosive Materials
* Any other hazardous materials
* Materials likely to set off an airport metal detector
* Materials likely to go mouldy

Other than the above conditions there is no formal selection procedure.

In the event of a sale, proceeds will be equally distributed between the gallery and the artist. For further information visit or email

The Black Cylinder Gallery will be officially launched at the 2006 Frieze Art Fair.

If you would like to exhibit work at Black Cylinder Gallery contact for an application pack.

Black Cylinder Gallery: Unofficial Launch 21 Sep 06

After a preliminary feasibility study at the Latitude Festival in July, Richard recently held the unofficial launch of the Black Cylinder Gallery during a special event at the Repatriating the Ark exhibition at the Museum of Garden History. I received 11 new pieces of work from attendees of the event, increasing the overall size of the Black Cylinder Collection by approximately 33 percent. Every piece of work was immediately catalogued and installed in the gallery (albeit using temporary labelling) and each donor was offered a complimentary glass of wine from a box of chardonnay strapped to my back. All work will be displayed at the Black Cylinder Gallery's official launch at the forthcoming Frieze Art Fair.

With many thanks to


Black Cylinder Gallery: Official Launch 12-15 Oct 06

At the Frieze Art Fair, London

More images to follow. Photography: Cecilia Wee




Q. Has Fame Asylum really been nominated for an award?
A. Yes, a Royal Television Society Education Award, but it didn’t win. Rumours that it may be nominated for an Amnesty International award proved to be untrue.

Q. Do you really live with your mother?
A. Actually I’ve just moved out.

Q. When did you have the idea?
A. In 2002. I was reading an article about asylum seekers, when I heard on the television that the BBC were making a PopStars copycat show called Fame Academy. At that moment the idea was born.

Q. Why did it take so long to come to fruition?
A. For several years I was almost the only person that didn’t think it was an awful idea. The other person was artist/international television executive Gary Carter, who I met at a conference in 2002 and who encouraged me to pursue the idea. I would later collaborate with Gary on Project V.

Q. Were they real asylum seekers?
A. Yes

Q. Even Aaron?
A. Yes!

Q. Where can I download Status’ song “A Guy Like Me”?
A. I don’t own the rights to the song, and I don’t think you can download it anymore, but you can watch a video of their South Bank performance here.

Q. Did you purposely sabotage the CD, so that it would skip at the South Bank performance?
A. No, although I was rather against the idea of them miming in the first place. The documentary makers wanted to have a recording of them miming in case they sounded awful live. In all the chaos of the day I forgot to retrieve the cd after the gig, but have subsequently managed to get it back, and it plays absolutely fine in all three cd players I’ve tested it in. My working theory therefore is that either the cd player at the gig was faulty (none of the previous acts had used it), or the vibration from the dancing caused the cd to skip. I accept responsibility for not double-checking both the backing track and the mime tracks during our brief sound check. In retrospect, that should have been done. But it was my first and last music sound check, so you live and learn. Interesting postscript: Originally the director was going to cut out the whole cd skipping incident, but I argued for it to be left in.

Q. So you had editorial control?
A. No. I was heavily involved in the pitching and preproduction of the documentary, and was able to give input to the director, but more often than not it was the other way round. I was kind of jostling for an associate producer role, but they said it would blur the lines between programme makers and subject too much.

Q. Did you get paid?
A. Yes, but not very much considering I spent several months on the project. It works out about minimum wage, when you average it out. I could have apparently got much more if I had an agent, which I don’t.

Q. Did the boys get paid?
A. No. to do so would have negatively affected their applications to stay in the country, as Asylum seekers aren’t allowed to earn money. Expenses only.

Q. Was the South Bank gig their last performance?
A. No they performed a bravura final gig back at the Human Rights Conference in Mile End that night. Unfortunately it wasn’t included in the doc as the crew were all exhausted. In retrospect it’s a shame it wasn’t filmed, as the finished documentary ends on a bit of a down note, when in actuality the project had quite an upbeat conclusion. It was filmed by other people, though, and I hope to include footage on a forthcoming dvd.

(UPDATE: Footage from Status's final performance in Mile End is included on the dvd Normalisation of Deviance)

Q. Why didn’t you narrate the programme?
A. I did originally, but the production company re-recorded it, I think to give the programme more objectivity. Also, I’m not a very good narrator.

Q. At the end of the programme it says something about Eurovision?
A. It was my dream to take Status to Helsinki 2007. I theorise that a UK Eurovision entry comprised of performers who aren’t from the UK is the only way the UK will ever win. Aaron in particular would have attracted the powerful eastern European vote. Unfortunately the BBC didn’t respond to any of my enquiries. I’ll try again in 2008, possibly, although, I'll be be very busy with my planned Eurovision Marathon project.

Q. How did Channel Four get involved?

Q. Was the boyband a parody?

Q. What happened to the band and the boys?

The answer to all these questions and more can be found in the email exchanges below:


I have received many emails about the Fame Asylum project since it was first transmitted in November 2006. I have removed all the sycophantic ones from friends and family. The following are all genuine emails from strangers. Some have been abridged to remove contact details and other personal information. Where relevant I have included replies.

From: Myke Armstrong
Sent: 18 July 2006 19:25:56
Subject : Guy Like Me

Dear Mr. Dedomenici, I am Mike Jones (a.k.a. Myke Armstrong) I am the lead singer/guitarist/songwriter in the Canadian rock band Spoken Whisper. I was readin MacLean's Magazine this afternoon and saw an article about your "Refugee Band" and noticed your song title, Guy Like Me. I hate to tell you this, but MY single Guy Like Me was written back in 2003 and recorded in 2004. Please change the title you are using to something not as close to mine I am not trying to be mean or anything, I've just worked to hard at this to have people thinking of your band when I announce My song on stage. Thank-you for your time.


Mike Jones

From: Emma Palmieri
Sent: 03 December 2006 09:40:12
Subject: Status - Fame asylum

Heya, Do you have any updates on 'status', I am a secret fan of cheezy pop and I think the project was a brilliant idea, cheers – Emma

From: oli harris
Sent: 16 January 2007 11:25:24
Subject: Fame Asylum

Just saw the Fame Asylum documentary on Channel 4 and have been googling frantically to try and and find the contact address of Richard Dedomenici so hopefully I've stuck gold and this is it!

Just a simple email really to say I was greatly impressed by the show and the concept. Am an admirer of your art (although must admit have only seen Fame Asylum out of any of it). You truly suceed in your aims of your art work. You really made me think and although I wasn't exactly 100% against asylum seekers my view was severly altered. As a lesser artist im envious of you (in a good way though...if that's possible).

Will carry on googling now to try and find more of your work, but any reply to this email would be greatly appreciated.

Update me on any work your doing / any news on the "Status" boys?


From: Sarah Turton
Sent: 16 January 2007 11:17:02
Subject: (None)

I saw your fame asylum thing today, i thought it was great. One of the most interesting things i've seen in ages, well done you.

one question...

Do you really live with your mother?

From: clare davies
Sent: 18 January 2007 12:44:33
Subject: (None)


The other morning when I should have been getting a life, not sitting round my flat, I flicked onto bbc2 and saw the programme Fame Asylum.

I was moved, to tears actually, by it, by those lads, their story, and by your involvement with them in this way. Since I missed the start (I only flicked over by chance, I was headed for Jeremy Kyle), I only realised near the end when it showed your debate about whether or not you felt it was expoitative, that it was part of an art project.

I don't know what happened to those lads in the aftermath of the project, but I know the programme affected me, and made me connect very personally to the reality of what immigrants face every day: it was a very human, touching programme. There's not that much on T.v, or in the media in general which moves me to want to respond personally, but this did, and I just wanted to commend you for what you did, whether or not you felt it a success or failure, it was a brave project to take on.

It even spurred me to read your blog, and find out more of what you do. Inspiring. Your hair seems to be quite a predominant feature, it's quite a strange phenomenon, very versatile.

So could you add me to your mailing list?. That would be nice. I live in Brighton, and would be especially interested if you came here and wanted to do something to shake this place up a bit. It's so full of creative types doing the same creative thing, it's in danger of becoming completely vacuous.

Thanks, Clare

Sent: 16 February 2007 12:52:50
Subject: Fame Asylum

Dear Richard

I have just watched your programme 'Fame Asylum'. You said that you think you haven't been benevolent - you have been worse than that. You may have given the boys a small amount of self esteem but that was never your intention. This was an art project to you; you took a group of vunerable men and used them for your benefit - your choreographer was correct in saying that you have been callous. Your programme has left me angry that you entered into this project without sufficient thought or research into the legacy or long lasting effects that this could have on the young men involved. You are dealing with people's lives not a group of inanimate objects in an academic experiment. When this is all over who will they turn to?


Luna Rahman

From: Sadeque
Sent: 16 February 2007 13:26:06
Subject: Would you be my solo performance artist manager?

Kindest Regards.


Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 15:24:59 +0000

Dear Luna,

Thanks for your email.

The documentary you saw this morning was originally aired last November and has subsequently been screened on 4Learning twice.

It was explained to the young men before they auditioned that the most we could offer them were two weeks of interesting experiences. When Aaron, David, Long, and Saeed (who, from hereon, I will affectionately refer to as 'the boys') all met for the first time I rammed home the point that the music industry is extremely fickle, boybands doubly so. I made it clear that no boyband has ever been formed in a fortnight before, and that, as such, there was little to no chance the band would get a deal, and that they should consider just getting to the final gig as their overall objective.

(At the beginning many of us, including the boys, doubted even if we'd make it that far.)

Understandably, the director left all this stuff out of the documentary for dramatic effect.

As it happened, we did get interest from several record companies, however most just wanted to sign the band for a one single deal, which would have seen little to no benefit for the boys, or longevity for the project.

The project finished last summer, and since then the boys have returned to their normal lives, which was a bit weird for everyone, especially Saeed, who had only been in the UK for a few weeks prior to auditioning, and had thus learned most of his English from artists, tv people and musos. All are currently studying and hoping to stay in the country, although, having reached eighteen, everyone except Aaron currently has their cases under review by the Home Office. The chances of them all remaining in the UK is very low, although their legal teams have asked me to provide them with full details of the Fame Asylum project, as it is thought that participation in such an enterprise may help further their cases.

In a way, I am glad the band didn't get a record deal, as the boys are all capable of so much more than being in a boyband. If the boys have taken anything away from the project I think it is that they should find out what they love to do, and do it to the best of their ability, and then they'll be happy.

I realise this may sound overly twee, and I don't want to brush away your points, which are entirely valid. The project was always going to be ethically dubious - which is a running theme of my work, which is fine when it's just me in the firing line (as is normally the case), but far more problematic when it's four 'vunerable' men. (Although some would argue that, having gone through so much pain and suffering in their lives just to get the UK, being in a boyband for a fortnight is water off a duck's back.)

I remain in contact with the Aaron, David, Long and Saeed, who also remain in contact with each other, the production team, and members of the crew. This support structure would not have been in place had the project not happened.

There are lots of other things about the project that I'd like to tell you, such as that the project was originally co-commissioned by The Refugee Council and the PSi #12 human rights conference with a budget of £1000. It would have been a very lo-fi affair, with the song being written and recorded by me on a laptop and the process documented by me on a mini-dv camera, and possibly uploaded to YouTube. It was very late in the process that Channel Four Learning expressed an interest, and the project grew in scale exponentially.

I am very glad that C4 got involved, even though I lost some creative control, as they paid for the recording studio and TJ the choreographer, and Sammi the vocal coach and Colin the songwriter, and the accomodation, and those lovely big mirrors in the rehearsal room, and above all documented the project professionally and guaranteed it an audience.

But the intention of the project was never to get my face on the telly.

(I don't contact tv companies with ideas. Sometimes, as on this occasion, it's the other way around. I'm fine with this, as I feel that television may be an ideal medium for my work. Most requests are turned down, however. I am well aware of the populist media's attitude to contemporary art, and that all publicity is not neccesarily good publicity.)

The intention of the project is outlined here:

The argument with TJ towards the end stemmed from the use of the term 'parody' to describe the boyband. I personally never used that term to describe the project.

The term was attributed to an American delegate at the conference, who saw the band's first performance, and remarked "it's a really interesting parody" (parody of what, they didn't say).

I feel that this particular observer misinterpreted the project. Indeed some people in that audience didn't even believe that the boys were real asylum seekers - that they were instead paid actors. I realise this ambiguity may have been partially my fault, as my introduction sounded a bit sarcastic (just the way I talk, I'm afraid. I can't sound sincere to save my life, often causing unintentional offence), but I stand by the right not to make work that is obvious and easy to understand. One of art's greatest strengths is that it is open to interpretation. If artists lower the common denominator to the extent that everyone instantly knows what it's about, then what's the point of making the work in the first place?

I would certainly say that the band was a pastiche (in the way that Westlife were a pastiche of Boyzone, who were a pastiche of Take That, who were a pastiche of New Kids on the Block, who were a pastiche of New Edition, who were a pastiche of The Jackson Five..), and a rather satirical pastiche at that, but 'parody', I don't agree with.

(Although 'parody' just means pastiche with mocking intent, and I did intend to lovingly mock the boyband genre, and less lovingly the wider music industry. But 'parody' is a loaded term with many incorrect and insidiously negative connotations, which would be to remove any serious intent or autonomy from the project, so I tried never to use the term in connection with the project.)

Sorry for rambling, but I have been wanting to get some of these thoughts down, and you are (believe it or not) the first negative email I've received on the subject.

(This excludes all the the negative media coverage the project received. From its inception the project was designed to polorise the press, but I was still a little surprised by their voracity: "Richard DeDomenici is a Fucking Idiot" PopJustice, "The Worst Idea For A Television Programme In The World Ever" The Guardian, "Appauling" The British National Front).

But I think that's because people are more willing to email compliments to other individuals than complaints.

And while I'm sure you won't be the last, most emails so far have been quite positive, some people saying that the programme made them cry, others that it has softened their attitude to immigration. I will put them all up on the website at some point.

I have to go now, but would genuinely be interested in any further dialogue. Perhaps could I ask what your relationship is to the programme? Are you a student seeing this programme in school (which makes up most of its audience, I think) or do you work in the Immigration sector?

Fame Asylum has been by far my most ambitious and problematic project to date (and this has been by far the longest email I've written in response to it). It's still far too early for me to decide whether it was a good idea or not.

To help you decide, if you haven't fully done so already, and to put it in context, here are some links to some of my other work:


Richard DeDomenici

Sent: 6 February 2007 18:04:36
Subject: RE: Fame Asylum

Dear Richard

Thank you for your reply.

My initial reaction to the programme was one of anger, however, having read your email it has given me a fuller picture of the project. Maybe, all being well with 'the boys', you might follow up with a programme '5 years from now'.

I work in the arts with young people. I am currently studying for a TESOL qualification. However I was watching the programme purely for personal interest.

I will follow the links you have provided.
Please pass on my best wishes to 'the boys' in their fight against deportation.
All the best in your future work.

Luna Rahman

From: Anonymous
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 11:17 AM
Subject: [Dedomenici Blog] New comment on Fame Asylum Fallout.

that dreadful thing is constantly on TV it seems, i was offended by the idea, but it certainly sticks in the mind. A not easily forgotten obvioous and tasteless idea. Shoes what the critics and so called art journalists know in this country. I guess you keep getting accolades for various pieces of mediocrity - like the bill posters graff thing as well, what rot! sorry for this rant but you ought to kow you're not purely loved and certainly too boring for shoreditch. leave that place alone.

From: Richard Dedomenici
Sent: 11 May 2007 16:43:21
Subject: [Dedomenici Blog] New comment on Fame Asylum Fallout.

Thanks Anonymous. If anyone wants a Too Boring For Shoreditch badge, visit and click on Shop.

From: Nicky Pennicott
Sent: 11 May 2007 11:41:15
Subject: Fame Asylum fan! ^_^

I recently watched Fame Asylum on Channel 4 (today in fact about half hour ago!) and it was such a moving story! i've never felt so strongly about asylum seekers before but your program made me think and feel so differently as well as realise just how hard it is for them. I was touched most by Long's story, i am a uK citisen but i've never been close to my father myself, but to loose him entirely would crush me, i don't know how they young guy could stand being so lost and alone here, same for the others i guess as well.

This i guess is just a mail to say im proud of what you did (call me a fan fan of the program i guess!), bringing them all something not even most of us normal people would get a chance to do, and helping them out as well as bringing them vast amounts of confidence about who they are.

is there anywhere i can acess images of the band when they where together? i saw at the end they had photoshoots and im curious why nowhere has them up!

Also, have you heard if they all managed to stay here? i really hope none got deported, especially Long with all his ambitions and studies.

reassure me they are alright! haha

Thanks very much for your time in reading this babble!


From: Philip Terry
Sent : 16 October 2007 12:09:07
To :
Subject : ideas

Hi Richard

I've seen your programme about the Asylum band for the second time now incidently and think your ideas are brilliant... Also thought your attitude was right while getting over a lot of difficult hurdles you had. Alot of people would have lost there cool in those situations....

I'm in a similar situation; 25 and overwhelmed with creativity and ideas every day while trying to focus to get some ideas off the ground with limited resources.....

In the lead up to your event, did you learn anything that may be worth sharing?

ps. Are you on facebook?



Sent: 16 Oct 2007 16:45:17
To: Philip Terry
Subject: RE: ideas

Hi Philip!

Thankyou for your kind words.

It's a good thing to have too many ideas. Many artists only have one idea, which they repeat throughout their career. This is only excusable if it a good idea.

Try and carry out the time-critical ideas first, write the other ones down for later, and don't be put off when other people manage to carry out the same ideas before you.

Here are some of my personal maxims, taken from my 2006 publication Richard DeDomenici Is Still An Artist:

1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow.
2. It's easier to apologise afterwards than it is to ask permission.
3. It reduces the confusion about how to interpret a work of art if there are no signifiers to suggest that it's a work of art in the first place.
4. Be a cog in the system and a spanner in the works.
5. There's no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.
6. Some people deserve to be offended

Take all these with a pinch of salt.

Oh, I've just thought of a new one: Not all publicity is good publicity.

Finally, I have just updated the Fame Asylum archive, which contains background and reaction to the project:

Good luck with all your future endeavours, Philip!


PS. I am not on FaceBook or MySpace. I made a decision last year that Social Networking Websites Are For Losers, and since then I've remained steadfast to that assertion, though I reserve the right to change my mind on this topic without notice.

From : Rumer Joyce
Sent : 16 October 2007 12:23:38
To :
Subject : well done

Well done richard I think you make a great project and it was a great film, well edited and very educational. I think you did everything you set out to achieve. Well done!! I hope you get a record deal for those boys and everything works out for you.


rumer joyce

From : Majella Connell
Sent : 14 January 2008 12:08:06
To :
Subject : Fame Asylum


Im sure you have received hundreds of e-mails regarding this programme- and Im sure that I will be saying nothing new or interesting (but I can always live in hope!) but it has been a long time since a TV programme urged me to get straight on to google for reasons other than to perv on someone!

I really enjoyed this programme- I live in Ireland and I definitely believe that as a nation we are incredibly hostile toward and ignorant of the personal stories of our many asylum seekers. I am currently training to be a nurse and I have observed how refugees are treated differently even on the ward. I cant pretend to have vast knowledge on this subject- and to be honest I have to admit my own ignorance- but your project made me more aware, and definitely stirred me to take a greater interest in people from other countries, and their stories.

I admire your ambition as an artist- I work in an art gallery part time and have the greatest respect for artists who aren't pretentious and make their art accessible to all- fair play to you!
(and living with your mam is deadly! here's your sister!)

Kind regards,


From : Rachel Todd
Sent : 14 January 2008 12:17:21
To :
Subject : Fame Asylum

Hey Richard!

I just saw your programme Fame Asylum on channel 4 and wanted to say what a great job you did with the band. It was an important point that they are vulnerable young people but you gave them significant gifts – hope for the future and the facility to be seen as an individual. I only hope that my country can do them justice in giving them the status they not only need but deserve.

Thank you for representing asylum seekers as people rather than the label that so many fail to understand. It was very insightful, not only about their lives and struggles but Aaron’s friend makes British citizens question what we really bring to our own country. Born here by chance, many of us could give back much more than we do but instead take our privileges for granted.

I recently met a guy who processes visa applications who made me realise just how ridiculous the system is when a convicted rapist is allowed to stay but someone who has worked for our army is deported. It’s a difficult world and I wish all the lads the very best for the future.

Take care,



Fame Asylum

A participatory performance project for PSi#12 Performing Rights Conference and Refugee Week 2006 created in collaboration with Channel Four, the Live Art Development Agency and Refugee Week.


Fame Asylum is a collaboration between the artist Richard Dedomenici, Channel Four, Refugee Week, PSi#12 Performing Rights Conference, and the Live Art Development Agency that aims to create a participatory performance project with asylum seekers for Refugee Week 2006.

Richard Dedomenici will undertake an audition process in London in May and June 2006 with the aim of inviting four young male asylum seekers to form a vocal harmony boyband that will be launched as part of Refugee Week 2006.

Following the audition process and confirmation of the line-up, the band will be launched at a special appearance/press conference at PSi#12 Performing Rights Conference in London on June 14th. They will then undertake an intensive rehearsal process in which they will receive vocal training, choreography lessons, stylist makeovers, and record a demo of their debut single. This process will be captured on film for a Channel Four documentary to be transmitted in the autumn. The band’s first live performance will be on stage at the Celebrating Sanctuary event on London's South Bank as part of Refugee Week 2006.

Such an innovative and provocative experiment that addresses issues of immigration, human rights and the nature of fame will inevitably receive media coverage, and it is intended that such exposure will contribute to interest in this project and cultivate record company interest, and therefore a sustainable future, for the band. The project is concerned with shifting perceptions and understandings of the experiences of asylum seekers and has no intention of guaranteeing its participant’s fame, sustainable employment or chart success.


Fame Asylum is designed to alter attitudes towards immigration issues among the difficult to-reach opinion-influencing female adolescent demographic, harnessing pester-power and the trickle-up theory‚ to change minds, alter behaviour, shift paradigms, and transform societies.

Fame Asylum is being developed in response to the identified needs of artists working in Live Art and related practices who wish to engage with new creative strategies to raise popular awareness around complex socio-political issues, and in response to the needs of refugee artists and asylum seekers who wish to make visible the contribution of refugees to the UK, promote understandings of why people seek sanctuary and counter negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers in Britain.


Richard Dedomenici
Richard Dedomenici is a one-man subversive think-tank primarily dedicated to the development and implementation of innovative strategies designed to undermine accepted belief systems and topple existing power structures. By approaching the limits of conventionally acceptable behaviour, Richard Dedomenici's poetic acts of low-grade civil disobedience forcibly ask pertinent questions of society, while his subtle anarcho-surrealist interventions create the kind of uncertainty that leads to possibility.

Live Art Development Agency
The Live Art Development Agency is the leading development organisation for Live Art and new performance based practices in the UK. The Agency offers extensive open access opportunities for research, training, dialogue and debate; provides practical information and advice; works in partnership with artists and organisations on curatorial initiatives; and develops new ways of increasing popular and critical awareness of Live Art. Issues of cultural difference and diversity are a priority for the Agency and inform many of its schemes and initiatives.

Refugee Week
Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, promote understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary, and encourage better understanding between different communities. Refugee Week was first held in 1998, and was created in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain. It remains the only UK-wide event that promotes the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.

Refugee Week is a multi-agency project, with representatives from the partner agencies forming the UK Steering and Operation Groups. The partner agencies currently include: Refugee Council, Amnesty International UK, Arts Council England, British Red Cross, International Rescue Committee UK, Refugee Action, Save the Children Fund UK, Scottish Refugee Council, STAR (Student Action for Refugees), UNHCR, Welsh Refugee Council and Oxfam.

For 2006’s Refugee Week events will be organised around the idea that Refugee Week is a space of encounters between different communities and an opportunity to use more creative ways to address relevant issues and attract new audiences.

PSi#12 Performing Rights Conference
In London for the first time, PSi #12 Performing Rights will focus on questions of performance and human rights and will feature plenary addresses, numerous panels and a diverse programme of Performance Events.

Bringing together curators, policy makers and directors of some of London's key cultural agencies and institutions, alongside artists, activists and thinkers from all over the world, this event will be a unique crossing between the arts, the academy, activism and public policy.


As part of Refugee Week 2007, I was asked to contribute an essay to the Refugee Week Blog. It was a modified version of the email to Luna Rahman, published above, and can be read here. I also did this performance.

As of Tuesday 16th October, Fame Asylum has been broadcast eight times, which I think is the maximum number of times Channel Four can screen the documentary without having to pay repeat fees, so it may not be on again. However, if you have a PC, you can watch it on 4oD, Channel Four's on demand service.

UPDATE: It was just on again, actually (January 14th 2008). I know this because of the unsolicited emails in my inbox (added above).

There are also some clips on Four Learning's Fame Asylum microsite, as well as a programme outline, curriculum notes, and lesson activities.

Fame Asylum has, at the time of writing, been exhibited as part of three gallery exhibitions: Festival at Space Station 65, London, Media Attention at g39 in Cardiff, and We Like It A Lot at Nettie Horn, London. Here is a review of Media Attention, and below is some explosive explanatory copy by curator Cassandra Needham:

"DeDomenici’s shrewd deployment of spin works within the media system, courting media interest whilst undermining the very notions the popular press created.

The project also raises pertinent questions regarding exploitation and the efficacy of socially engaged art. Fame Asylum is, after all, the real life story of four very vulnerable young men and it is by no means a rags-to-riches story – the quartet finds neither fame nor an adoring public, disbanding after just two weeks.

By compounding two dominant structures of our time – collaborative art practice and reality television – DeDomenici opens each up to critical debate. The resulting hybrid is far more nuanced than a direct and singular critique of either convention."

Furthermore, Fame Asylum will be screened as part of the National Review of Live Art 2008 in Glasgow next February.

At the University of California, Berkeley, Doctoral candidate Beth Hoffman recently gave a paper entitled 'Liminal-norms and the "normalisation of deviance": Richard DeDomenici's Fame Asylum'. The paper will eventually form a chapter of Hoffman's PhD thesis, so cannot yet be published in Academia Nuts, In the meantime, here is a brief extract:

I argue that Fame Asylum is an example of live art that productively exposes the sidelined anxieties and normative effects that liminal spaces can bring about, rather than one that unequivocally affirms the cultural efficacy of liminality highlighted by Heathfield and Quick.

Blimey, Heathfield and Quick - that's a bit contentious. Do either of you have anything to say in response? Email me and I'll add your contribution to this page.

Here is an official Channel Four publicity shot, taken immediately after Status' first performance on the South Bank.

Oh, and there are some articles about the project here, here, here and here, and a AustriaNews video on YouTube here.

Finally, and slightly off topic, here is a unsolicited Channel ident I made in Ireland, which coincided with the original transmission of Fame Asylum in 2006. It comes up first if you type Channel Four Ident into YouTube, and recently made it to the final four in a 4Talent Stings Competition.


It may surprise you to learn that my artistic practice is now on the curriculum of many Higher Education establishments. It surprised me, certainly.

Anyway, a nice chap called Fionn recently wrote his dissertation about me (and the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army), and received a first.

Congratulations Fionn.

If that's not incentive enough for you to write academic papers about my work, email me your finished essay, or relevent extract thereof, and I promise to publish it below, even if it's rude.

You must include your full name, course title, institution, and essay grade.

As part of your primary research, free to email me lists of difficult questions to answer. I promise to read them all, slowly, but in most cases will not respond.

Understand this is not for lack of appreciation. It’s just that the days are short and there is so much still to do. (© Miranda July)

I will shortly add a new section to this page entitled: Questions emailed to me by students that I didn't have time, or were too difficult, to answer and, where possible, include answers.

Also Coming Soon: Liminal-norms and the "normalisation of deviance": Richard DeDomenici's Fame Asylum by Beth Hoffman, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Berkeley. (preview)

And in the interests of full disclosure, I am slowly transcribing for upload my own 2001 dissertation Guerilla Tactics in the Concrete Jungle - Subverting the Corporate Systems that Govern our Lives.

And remember kids: Plagiarism Funds Terrorism.

Fionn Gill
Hana Tait (extract)
Beth Hoffman (preview)
Eva Daníèková

Name: Fionn Gill
Course: Performance Studies
Institution: Breton Hall
Grade: First

Protest as Performance, Performance as Protest: a study of the intersection between political activism and performance, with particular focus on the contemporary carnivalesque.


Chapter 1. Protest as Performance
Chapter 2. Performance as Protest


Ultimately it is in the streets that power must be dissolved: for the streets is where daily life is endured, suffered and eroded, and where power is confronted and fought, must be turned into the domain where daily life is enjoyed, created and nourished.

Reclaim the Streets (Reclaim 2007)

The dissertation will be looking at the interaction between political activism and performance in contemporary society, and primarily focusing on examples that are ‘carnivalesque’. With reference to a range of theory and practice, it will be asking what different examples of carnivalesque activism are there? How have the theories of the carnivalesque and their examples changed over time; and how does theory differ between examples? What are the aims of the different examples identified and how effective are they at achieving them? What examples are most potent at affecting social change?

In answering these questions this enquiry will be tracking the development of the theories of the carnivalesque from Mikhail Bakhtin’s Carnival, to Guy Debord’s Situations and to Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone. It will observe how they have changed due to the cultural development from modernism to post-modernism. These cultural changes will be explained with reference to Debord’s theory of the Society of Spectacle and Jean Baudrillard’s theory of the post-modern society of simulacra and the hyper-real. In my discussion I will be using analysis primarily from Gavin Grindon, Baz Kershaw, Richard Schechner and David Schlossman, who are key scholars in this field.

This study is interested in how performance can aid the aims of the activist world and not how developments add to the ‘art-world’. This topic is inherently anti-institutional and is always concerned in performance that happens in the streets. This study is also specifically interested in Western theory and practice, and where possible it aims to use British examples as much has already been written about American practice. There is an extensive and important history to radical public performance but this study will not documenting this development. The contemporary carnivalesque is a derivative of the larger cultural phenomenon of counter-culture, but an analysis of this lies beyond the scope of this study. As cultural resistance is always a struggle between those who have power, or those hold ‘cultural hegemony’, and those who do not, it will also be addressing how those who have power maintain it with the use of same methods as those who resist them.

Figure 1. Schlossman’s chart: Exchange between social worlds of activism and institutional performance.
(cited in Schlossman 2002:56)

David Schlossman’s chart in Figure 1 provides a conceptual plotting of the intersection between performance and activism. The right hand side, ‘Activity Initiated by Performance World Insider’, will not be looked at in this study, but rather, the journey from ‘Demonstrations’, on the far left, to ‘Artists Activist and their work’, in the middle, will form the structure of my investigation. Chapter 1 investigates how demonstrations are inherently performative and carnivalesque, but where the participants are not necessarily aware of this. It then looks at occasions where activists are aware of these elements and it forms the basis of their demonstration. Chapter 2 looks briefly at occasions when activists use performance or theatrical conventions as their means of direct action, what might come under Schlossman’s identification of ‘Guerrilla theatre’ and ‘activist-performance troupes’. It then, more extensively, looks at occasions when artists use their art as a means of direct action; what Schlossman might identify as Artist-activists.

Chapter 1. Protest as performance

Theatre is amoral, as useful to tyrants as to those who practice guerrilla theatre.

Richard Schechner (cited in Schechner 1993:1)

Russian scholar, Mikhail Bakhtin was the first to set out the ideas of the carnivalesque, in 1940 in Rabelais and His World. He addresses carnival in relation to medieval folk culture and festival as a critique to the strict hegemony of the Soviet Union. In particular noted Bakhtin how medieval carnival:

celebrated temporary liberation from the prevailing truth of the established order: it marked the suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges, norms and prohibitions. … For a short time life came out of its usual, legalized and consecrated furrows and entered into a space of utopian freedom. The very brevity of this freedom increased its fantastical nature and utopian radicalism.
(Bakhtin 1968:10-89)

Michael Bristol notes: ‘Utopia is a critique of the official history of a society … Carnival is an old and persistent way of acting out utopia’ (Bristol in Cohen-Cruz 1998:167).
Through the collective realization of joyful desires the carnivalesque undermines the status quo; ‘challenging the hierarchies of normality in a counter-hegemonic, satirical and sartorial parody of power’ (Kershaw 1992:72-3). It is this subversion of hegemony, and enactment of utopia that is understood to provide revolutionary impetus (Grindon 2004).

When activists take direct action, such as demonstrations, they are ‘performative’, in Butler’s terms, because they are ‘actions through which people enact ideas’ (Schlossman 2002:57). Most demonstrations include performance conventions, such as signs, banners, speeches and chanting, and frequently employ theatrical conventions, such as costumes, masks, makeup and puppets (Schlossman 2002). Moreover, demonstrations as a whole constitute a ‘cultural performance’ in the terms that Fuoss sets out. They are pre-planned events presenting a program to an audience (the activists themselves, the target of the demonstration, and the passers by); they frame the space as “marked off” (a street becomes a temporary space for communication); they are “heightened occasions” employing display or spectacle; and they seek to reshape rather than merely reflect social reality (Schlossman 2002).

Demonstrations, often being confined to pre-determined areas and controlled by the police, are ordered cultural performances, but for a dynamic that has the potential for inciting change they need to become disordered, so that those in power lose their control. History shows that this can happen through violence and rioting will ensue, or it can happen celebratory and carnival will ensue. Rioting loses any symbolic meaning through the contradiction of becoming the same as the object of demonstration: oppressive, violent and real. The carnivalesque, on the other hand, is able to subvert the object of protest through the use of sign; and in revolutionary circumstances the imaginary becomes real (Kershaw 1999).

In Washington in May 1970 an anti-Vietnam War demonstration became disordered. It started as a demonstration connected to the US bombing of Cambodia, an escalation of the Vietnam War, but soon turned into carnival as seas of American youth occupied the White House Lawn. According to Richard Schechner, protesters ‘smoked dope, made out, and lounged on the capital’s sumptuous lawns …; people bathed, many naked, in the Lincon Memorial Reflecting Pool’ (Schechner 1993:65). Schechner notes how the elements of carnival served a subversive purpose:

The frolic – with its characteristic whirling choreography, the dispersal of orderly ranks into many intense volatile groups, the show of private pleasures satisfied in public places – subverted and mocked the neo-Roman monuments and pretensions of imperialist Washington.
(Schechner 1993:65-6)

Kershaw extends Schechner’s Bakhtian analysis by pointing out the occupation’s symbolic importance:

An en masse immersion in the waters that reflect the memorial to State-protected liberty generated popular pleasure: the collective body of the populace ironically obliterating an evanescent image of the state’s false promise of peaceful freedom.

(Kershaw 1999:101 original italics)

The invasion of the White House lawn, a symbolic place of State power, forced a ‘dialectual-theatrical’ split into protagonists and antagonists, making clear the object of revolt. There was a moment of ‘high drama’ when President Nixon approached the demonstrators in an attempt to appease them but was met with shouts of ‘Trash Nixon!’ as they raised dustbin lids with his picture stuck on the inside (Schechner 1993). The metaphor, as Kershaw interprets, ‘rests on the ambiguous sign of the lids as shields and as ironic picture frames for the President’s image … Such parodic mockery is the stuff of the carnivalesque’ (Kershaw 1999:101). In attempting to talk to the demonstrators, Nixon’s ‘verbalism’ is severely overpowered by the symbolism the demonstrators employ. To regain control and order, and thus his authority, Nixon would have needed to make a bigger symbolic gesture, but failing this he was later driven out of office (Schechner 1993).

Although the occupation of the White House lawn is clearly carnivalesque, it needs a further theoretical step to complete its dramaturgy. Unlike Bakhtin’s ideas which related to medieval society, in the West, we now live in a late-capitalist mediatised society. In 1968, Guy Debord named this society the society of spectacle; a term for all relations in contemporary society that ‘privileges appearance over reality, creating a socio-economic reality whose currency depends not upon objects, but upon fetishized, marketable images’ (Schlossman 2002:48). Therefore, according to Debord, those in power maintain order symbolically through this spectacle. Kershaw explains how:

the display of power – its symbolic representation in multifarious forms of public custom, ceremony and ritual, and then their reproduction throughout the media – has become in some senses more important to the maintenance of law and order than authority’s actual powers of coercion and control.
(Kershaw 1999:92 original italics)

The occupation of the White House lawn firstly created a spectacle and secondly created a symbolic confrontation; therefore the synecdochic spectacle of this protest ‘challenges a system of authority in its own terms’ and, potentially, the disruption of the spectacle would ‘expose the systems of domination and stimulate a revolution through which popular desire for freedom would be satisfied’ (Kershaw 1999:92). Furthermore, protest in a mediatised society always assumes an audience; one whose attention is the most important to get to allow for a mass communication of counter-hegemonic ideologies.
The events are ‘played out’ and key symbols are ‘performed’ for the media (Kershaw 1999). It is this event’s reproduction through the media, with its key subversive symbols, that helped to convert dominant opinion against Nixon forcing him out office (Schechner 1993). It can be surmised, then, as Kershaw does, ‘all the polyphonous eloquence that Bakhtin claimed for classic carnival, plus original forms of theatricalised spectacle that, true to Debord’s recipes for a symbolic revolution, fashion new relationships between the imaginary and the real’ (Kershaw 1999:100), are needed for potent protest in contemporary society.

This was the basis of the ‘artistic avant-garde group cum revolutionary organisation’ (Grindon 2004:152), Situationist International. Led by Guy Debord, in the late 1960’s they developed Bakhtin’s writings on the carnivalesque into a working model for enabling socio-political change (Grindon, 2004). This brings us to a new area in the interaction of activism and performance; activity where activists are fully aware of the performative and carnivalesque elements of protest and this forms the basis of their direct action.

Reclaim the Streets (RTS) is a British direct action network that utilises the Situationists model to struggle for ‘global and local social-ecological revolution(s) to transcend hierarchical and authoritarian society (capitalism included)’ (Reclaim 2007). They create actions that centre on an ethos of reclaiming public space from cars and corporations that have ‘eroded community’. (Klein 2000) Naomi Klein explains how a RTS action, or ‘street party’, works:

Since 1995, RTS has been hijacking busy streets, major intersections and even stretches of highway for spontaneous gatherings. In an instant, a crowd of seemingly impromptu partyers transforms a traffic artery into a surrealist playpen. … [S]ome theatrical means of blocking traffic is devised … [t]hen seemingly out of nowhere comes the travelling carnival of RTSers: bikers, stilt walkers, ravers, drummers …, sandboxes, swing sets, paddling pools, couches.
(Klein 2000:313)

For RTS the powers of carnival and spectacle are the basis of their method of protest. This is a self-conscious synechdochic carnivalesque spectacular protest, described as ‘a collective daydream’ by one organiser and a ‘large-scale coincidence’ by another (Klein 2000). The overt use of symbolic imagery; the instruments and playthings, and the forced creation of carnival and spectacle, pushes the ability of this action to subvert the urban surroundings further their unconscious use. In a sense, it is pre-meditated and organised chaos. Furthermore, Kershaw notes how ‘the unexpected and the surprising are especially potent weapons for disrupting the spectacle and challenging authority, even at the level of everyday experience’ (Kershaw 1999:98). But unlike the Washington demonstration, the RTS street parties do not seem to have the media attention that is vital for mass communication of their message; they communicate to observers in the immediate area but their audience is significantly reduced.

Since its inception in 1995 the popularity of RTS has rapidly grown, in the UK and internationally, and in 1998 the first ‘Global Street Party’ was held comprising of street parties in 24 countries. Like Debord’s Situations, RTS see their actions as revolutionary. They surmise that they will grow in number, frequency and occurrence until it ‘grows roots … la fete permanente’ (Jordan in Klein 2000:319). As yet no global or local ‘social-ecological revolution(s)’ have occurred. Schechner notes how the Washington demonstration of May 1970 is a rare example of a carnivalesque demonstration having a significant effect; Nixon was forced out of office but no revolution occurred, counter-culture did not become dominant culture, the carnival was temporary. This is the main criticism scholars share in this topic: Schechner concludes quite clearly that ‘the difference between temporary and permanent change distinguishes carnival from revolution’ (Schechner 1993:83) and Kershaw notes that ‘the anti-hegemonic upending of norms acts as a safety valve for the ultimately regulated relief of oppositional pressure’ (Kershaw 1992:73).

Moreover, both Schechner and Kershaw point out that this ‘safety-valve’ conversely strengthens the prevailing order for ‘at the end of the carnivalesque day the revellers return to a living whose rules are set by dominant ideologies, with energies dissipated and their sense of the liberality of the regime re-animated’ (Kershaw 1992: 73), and Grindon goes as far as to say that the ‘revellers’ are thus, in this sense, ‘complicit with that which they superficially oppose’ (Grindon 2004). Schechner explains that the State employs the notion of a carnivalesque ‘safety valve’ to maintain power; by introducing carnivals, festivals, parades and other events into the social calendar. Official entertainment, or official culture, provides ‘scripted fun’ where street displays are ‘orderly, arranged in longitudinal rectangles moving in one directions, and proceeding from a known beginning to a known end in time as well as space’ (Schechner 1993:82). This form of controlled carnivalesque allows for a ‘release of pressure’ without it becoming out of control. It strengthens hegemony through the symbolical representation of an ordered society (Schechner 1993).

One only has to think of the Nazi rallies in Nuremberg, which David Welch describes as ‘carefully staged theatrical pieces … [of] grandiose beauty’ (Welch in Cohen-Cruz 1998:117), to find evidence of this. Hitler’s ‘mass demonstrations’ used the same method of symbolism for effective protest as outlined by Debord. Images were of Nazi symbols, uniforms and flags; and the participants marched in ‘rigidly straight columns’; then it was relayed to the rest of the country via the television (Cohen-Cruz 1998). Welch argues that ‘the nature of the Nazi’s message was such that concrete demonstrations of physical strength gave a visible reinforcement to the spiritual message the propaganda was trying to instil’ (Welch in Cohen-Cruz 1998:118).

Gobbels’s, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, believed that mass demonstrations enforced a need for belonging. This directly reflects Stamm’s argument in favour of carnivalesque protest for resisting powers: ‘carnival … [functions] in continuously restoring the sense of vital collectivity which is more than simply symbolically opposed to class hierarchy, political manipulation, sexual repression, dogmatism and paranoia’ (Stamm in Kershaw 1999:73).

There are however counter arguments to found to the prevailing ‘safety valve’ argument. The Dutch group Provos, contemporaries of the Situationists, assert in their manifesto ‘the power of increasingly bold carnivalesque ruptures of hegemony to provoke authority to shed its veil of tolerance and reveal its serious, violent and intolerant nature, in turn provoking revolution against it’ (Grindon 2004:152). It was this process that initiated the creation of RTS. The 1994 Criminal Justice Bill made race culture illegal and ‘gave police far reaching powers to seize sound equipment and deal harshly with ravers in any public confrontations’ (Klein 2000:132). The club scene then forged new alliances with more ‘politisized subcultures’ and RTS was developed (Klein 2000; Grindon 2004).

This also provides support for Stallybrass and White’s argument that the ‘sharpened political antagonism’ of the carnivalesque can act as a catalyst for other similar events (Kershaw 1992). Kershaw, for instance, links the uprisings in Paris in May 1968 to the uprisings in Grosvenor Square, London two months earlier (Kershaw 1999). Therefore, the efficacy of carnivalesque protest should be looked at in its larger context rather than a single event. Kershaw criticizes Schechner in this respect; for his ‘structuralist’ analysis of protest downplays the ideological and historical contexts (Kershaw 1999). The Washington carnival was only effective as part of the larger anti-war movement and one RTS street party in its larger movement. Adding to this, the larger context of the counter-culture movement applies to both examples, which supports the Situationists view of revolution arising from the everyday living Bakhtin’s carnivalesque, rather than a one off event (Bakhtin ;Grindon 2004)

Though the obvious downfall with carnivalesque protest, as Grindon states, is that ‘without popular support, unlicensed carnivals are not revolutions so much as provocation to outrage the official order, and which the mass of people value’ (Grindon 2004:152). Until a time of majority support contemporary carnivalesque demonstrations will continue to be temporary manifestations of a counter-cultural utopian ideology – ‘a dream of a particular world that is different to this. People aren’t particularly sure how they’re going to get there but they want to express their unhappiness with the current way of life’ (Cohen-Cruz 1998:167).

There are also arguments against the use of spectacle. MacAloon criticizes the use of spectacle to fight spectacle: ‘How does one cure the disease with another dose of the disease?’ (MacAloon in Sclossman 2002:49). Furthermore, if fighting the State, or corporations, with symbolic spectacle the unfortunate fact is they have more resources and so will always be able to make a bigger spectacle than a counter-cultural uprising. The most tragic example of this was the ‘democracy movement’ centred in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square from April to June 1989, where the State ended the two month long carnivalesque uprising with violent marshal law. This took the protest from the symbolic to the very real (Schechner 2003).

Chapter 2. Performance as protest.

This is not a protest. Repeat. This is not a protest. This is some kind of artistic expression. Over.

A call that went out on Metro Toronto police radios on May 16, 1998, the date of the first global street party (cited in Klein 2000:311)

Activists have become aware of the power of the carnivalesque and spectacle as a means of protest, which derived a new form of self-consciously performative demonstration. This chapter focuses briefly on activists who use institutional performance traditions as protest with reference to Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA), and then, more extensively on artists who use their practice as protest, with reference to the work of Richard Dedomenici.

CIRCA have combined Bakhtin’s carnivalesque with the theatrical tradition of clowning to create a new form of creative non-violent direct action. They aim ‘to make clowning dangerous again, to bring it back to the street, restore its disobedience and give it back the social function it once had: its ability to disrupt, critique and heal society’ (Rebel 2007). In full clown garb, they have stormed the Leeds army recruitment office with ‘serious’ requests in signing up. They were declined and the office turned into a chaotic playpen; and in turn caused it to close for the remainder of the day. They have been a common sight at national demonstrations in the last couple of years, often seen trying to help the police ‘keep control’ (Lab of ii 2005; Klapto 2006). It can be seen how the clown complements the carnivalesque and thus enhancing the subversive ability of their action. They reference Bakhtin in their manifesto, commenting how carnival and clown suspend and mock everyday law and order, and laughter and confusion are tools used to make the serious faces of authority look ridiculous; disrupting their spectacle (Klapto 2006).

With such localised action it is difficult to imagine that they are able to ‘clog the systems of power’ as they claim (Klapto 2006), but a new set of intensions beyond revolution is revealed from a brief look at their actions: there is a degree of personal transcendence that is important for the activists’ own struggle against dominant culture; a personal expressive outlet. It also overcomes traditional activism’s problem of being tiresome, and a new, fun and creative approach is potentially inspiring for others to participate (Orenstein 2002).

Richard Dedomenici is a politically engaged conceptual artist. His mission statement reads:

Richard Dedomenici is a one-man subversive think-tank primarily dedicated to the development and implementation of innovative strategies designed to undermine accepted belief systems and topple existing power structures.

By approaching the limits of conventionally acceptable behaviour, Richard Dedomenici's poetic acts of low-grade civil disobedience forcibly ask pertinent questions of society, while his subtle anarcho-surrealist interventions create the kind of uncertainty that leads to possibility.
(Dedomenici 2005b:4)

Dedomenici’s work takes many different forms; from public acts of creative intervention and culture jamming , to books and websites. Figure 2 expresses Dedomenici’s work in a blur between activism and art, resembling Schlossman’s chart of activism and institutional performance. He adds the third dimension of comedy, believing: ‘in our cynical world, humour is a far better way to break through barriers than hard-nosed political rhetoric’ (Dedomenici 2005b:6). The use of comedy in Dedomenici’s work, as in CIRCA and Bakhtin’s carnivalesque, is a subversive way of satirising his subject matter. He explains that themes intrinsic to his work are ‘reverse-psychological “Pro-capitalism” and performance designed to foster the spirit of internationalism.’ (Dedomenici, R. 2005a:31).

Figure 2. Dedomenici’s Venn diagram to express how his work straddles different practices and evades precise definition. He does not place himself in a specific part of the diagram but leaves that for the reader to decide (Taken from Dedomenici 2005b:7).

In Dedomenici’s Sexed-up: A Study Into the Potential Threat Posed By Weapons of Mass Destruction Lying Dormant In Our Midst, he uses the form of an illustrated lecture to explain how a cannon at the Edinburgh Castle could be utilised by Al-Qaeda to attack the Holyrood Parliament. Similarly, how terrorists could turn a gun turret on HMS Belfast towards his mother’s house in Watford and blow it up. These warnings turned into a press release entitled ‘Artist to point guns of HMS Belfast at his mum’s house in Watford’. The performance that set to attempt this failed. These aspects were then documented in his book and website (Dedomenici 2005a). Dedomenici’s mixture of ‘low-grade civil disobedience’ and ‘anarcho-surrealist intervention’ in this project are clearly in the realm of the carvivalesque; amounting to an act of subversion as Mark Brown observes:

By suggesting that even the obsolete weapons of the tourist industry might come in handy for terrorists, he cleverly subverts the fears of evil-doers getting their hands on US or UK weapons of mass destruction. The result is a wonderfully absurd satire of David Blunkett’s contribution to the much-validated “war on terror”.
(Brown 2004)

The intersection of art and activism in Dedomenici’s work creates a conflict of interests between them. Dedomenici’s work is institutionalized; he holds exhibitions, performs in cultural centres and documents his work for arts organizations. Yet in the activist world there exists such a thing as ‘anti-artists’ who believe ‘the cultural industry is just another aspect of capitalism and, as such, must be destroyed’ (Lebel in Cohen-Cruz 1998:180). Crimp and Rolsten would argue that like ‘the fate of most critical art practices’, any radicalism in Dedomenici’s work is co-opted and neutralized by the institutions (Felshin 1995).

In Dedomenici’s support, Nina Felshin would argue that such is the variety of his forms he is able to accommodate institutional demands whilst having other work that remains ‘radical’. Keeping one foot in the art world, Felshin notes, ‘is sometimes regarded by activist artists as a means of keeping the other foot more firmly planted in the world of political activism’ (Felshin, N. 1995:21). Dedomenici overtly claims ‘I am radicalizing the institutions, rather than them institutionalizing me’ (Dedomenici 2007b). Furthermore, his institutional work is generally a documentation of his radical public interventions; if his work wasn’t documented then less people would be affected by it, reducing his audience.

In a further conflict, Dedomenici sells mass producible products and uses a logo to market himself. This contradicts his activist interests for he is embracing the capitalist culture of commodity that he looks to critique; and in the long run, is conversely supporting the ‘belief systems’ and ‘power structures’ he claims to be dismantling. Art critics have connected Dedomenici’s work with the Situationists but their theories emphasize a ‘self-valorization’; an abandonment of engagement with capital, where resisting work is part of the cultural resistance (Grindon 2004), and, similarly, the conceptual art movement emerged out of the rejection of art-product (Osborne 2002). Although the products he sells, clearly inspired by the culture jammers, are of a satirical nature, political Top Trumps for instance, Carrie McLaren would argue ‘what comes out is no real alternative to culture of consumption, just a different brand’ (McLaren in Klein 2000:295). With these contradictions identified, any notion of counter hegemonic ideology in Dedomenici’s work is nullified for it conversely supports dominant ideologies and culture.

If we apply the Situationist theory that a counter-spectacle is needed to subvert the spectacle of power, then Dedomenici is unable to achieve this as, firstly, his ‘subtle low-grade interventions’ are not spectacular and, secondly, his work embraces the mediatised image that is spectacle’s object of resistance. Similarly, Bakhtin’s notion of revolution through a collective realization of desire is impossible in Dedomenici’s ‘solo acts of civil disobedience’, for they cannot constitute carnival. Brookchin would accuse Dedomenici of ‘lifestyle anarchism’ and criticize his interventions being ‘individualist to the extent of complicity with the relations it superficially opposes’ (Grindon 2004:157).

Situationist theory and conceptual art theory are therefore inappropriate for an analysis of Dedomenici’s work. Debord’s society of spectacle has since been updated by Jean Baudrillard, who has taken it a few theoretical steps further to formulate his notion of the post-modern society of the simulacra and the hyper real. Kershaw notes:

From a starting point sympathetic to situationism, Baudrillard … extended its premises through a logic in which the spectacle of simulation became the only reality. … [He] argues that the ‘precession of simulacra’ in the capitalist overproduction of commodities and images finally entirely banishes the real by representing nothing other than their own, simulated reality.
(Kershaw 1999:93)

In Baudrillard’s simulated society the recuperation of the true or real by the disruption of spectacle becomes meaningless, for the sign has become disconnected with what it signifies and language from its object (Kershaw 1992). Sexed up…is presented with a variety of signs, such as the lecture format, video footage and the press release. With their over-use and ridiculous application Dedomenici makes it clear that these signs have become detached from their meaning; he both manifests the warnings of terrorism and confounds them. This then undermines the government’s signifying system for ‘manufacturing consent’ for the war; part of which is achieved through what Diana Taylor calls ‘performative language’ (Taylor 2003).

Felshin explains that mimicking commercial forms of media firstly guarantees a broad, multifaceted audience, and then by subverting the expectation with irony, humour or understatement the artist encourages ‘participation through interpretation’ (Felshin 1995:16); a method Hal Foster has termed Subversive Signs. For Foster, Dedomenici ‘becomes a manipulator of signs more than a producer of art objects, and the viewer an active reader of messages rather than a passive contemplator of the aesthetic or consumer of the spectacular’ (Hal in Osborne 2002). Therefore his products, use of a logo and even institutionalization, are both target and weapon, a method Dedomenici calls ‘reverse-psychological “Pro-capitalism”’ (Dedomenici, R. 2005a:31). Culture jammer, Saul Alinsky uses the phrase ‘political jujitsu’ to describe the use of a corporations own method of communication with a message at odds to the intended; ‘We use the momentum of the enemy’ (Alinsky in Klien 2000:281). It is for these reasons that Dedomenici openly declares: ‘There’s a danger that by turning himself in to pure product he [Dedomenici] will dissolve the traditional ambitions and tensions of the avant-garde, but that’s a risk he’s willing to take’ (Dedomenici, R. 2005b:6); ‘“Be a cog in the system and a spanner in the works"’ (Dedomenici 2007b)

The array of contradictions in Dedomenici’s work is thus actually a method of unveiling the truth; like a modern-day jester, as CIRCA’s Klapto explains : ‘Since the beginning of time tricksters (the mythological origin of all clowns) have embraced life’s contradictions, creating coherence through confusion – add disorder to the world in order to expose its lies and speak the truth’ (Klapto 2006), and as Kershaw notes: ‘In the increasingly post-modern dimension the ironic verbal aphorism, the parodic visual image and the paradoxical ‘message’ are crucial weapons’ (Kershaw 1999:106). With Dedomenici’s use of, the relatively new development, of the internet as a means of communication, his reachable ‘audience’ is significantly increased: ‘my Google rating …has sky-rocketed to over 10,000’ (Dedomenici 2007a).

By referring to Dedomenici as a modern-day jester then, even if he is ‘exposing the truth’ it is implying his comic ‘pranks’ are not to be taken seriously. It is hard to argue against this point except in Cable Tie, which takes a more serious approach and applies Baudrillard’s notion of the hyper-real to full effect. Cable Tie was ‘Dedomenici's solo attempt to navigate Chicago with a plastic bag on his head and his hands tethered behind his back with a nylon cable tie - the US military’s brutally efficient method of choice for detaining illegal combatants’ (Dedomenici 2006). The real and imaginary are deliberately confused, and the manipulation of signs here create a new meaning that is shocking rather that satirical. The fact Dedomenici ‘hoods’ himself for real turns the streets of Chicago into a metaphor; it becomes an extension of the war in Iraq (Grindon 2004; Kershaw 1999). Kershaw gives an in-depth analysis to a similar protest in 1970, connected to the Vietnam War, which seems pertinently related to Cable Tie:

We can characterize this as an imaginative hyper-realism that in a globalizing gesture challenges the spectator with both the immediacy and distance of the war, carrying an excessive intensity that makes the action paradoxical. This dramaturgy aims to make sense by bypassing the rational, subverting the logic of critical containment, in order to provoke an unexpected response. Significantly it is not recommending an action: it is giving opportunity for revulsion/fascination. ... But by confounding the real and the imaginary so thoroughly it leaves the nature of any subsequent action open to the spectator. … It is a post-modern protest.
(Kershaw 1999:103)

One wonders if Dedomenici’s indirect interventions are carnivalesque and if they even constitute direct action. Hakim Bey is a postmodern anarchist theorist who supports Baudrillard’s findings and believes we live in a ‘post-spectacular society of simulation’ (Grindon 2004). Continuing the line of development from Bakhtin to the Situationists he has formed a new model for carnivalesque direct action he calls Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). Bey explains a TAZ is:

like an uprising which does not engage directly with the state, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the state can crush it … They are spaces that temporarily step outside of capital and are characterized by a carnivalesque inversion of cultural values and a blurring of the boundaries between life and art.
(Bey in Grindon 2004).

Thus, in Bey’s terms Dedomenici does constitute both carnivalesque and direct action.

Dedomenici notes 48 hours after Cable Tie the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke worldwide and that two weeks later hooding in Iraq was outlawed. For Dedomenici this supported the idea of the ‘shamanistic properties of performance art’ (Dedomenici in Lab of ii 2005). Whilst this is quite a vague statement, Schlossman’s notion of ‘symbolic interaction’ gives a more substantial explanation for what Dedomenici might be implying. Formulated from postmodern critical theory and symbolic interactionist sociology, his theory is less interested in the ‘cause-and-effect’ efficacy debate and focuses upon exchange amongst people in different but overlapping segments of society. He explains ‘we should not look at the impact of a play has on an audience, for instance, but at the impact it has on their total experience of the socio-political world; giving a piece in the jigsaw puzzle that individuals link with other experiences as part of an ongoing engagement of political issues’ (Schlossman 2004:12).This also furthers support for the efficacy of Dedomenici’s entire oeuvre because, in their various forms, all his works constitute an addition to social activities and thus are able to affect cultural hegemony. Furthermore, this argument would include CIRCA and the practices identified in chapter 1. Schlossman explains how:

art, including performance, cannot be separated from the rest of society because art constitutes a strand in the web of objects, actions and ideas that make up a society’s culture, and a tug on any strand affects all the others. In this view, artistic practice, including performance, can be deployed, intentionally or unconsciously, to reinforce or resist the social order.
(Schlossman 2004:8)

CIRCA and Dedomenici are part of a larger group called The Lab of Insurrectory Imagination (Lab of ii) whose ideas reflect Bey’s: ‘a network of socially engaged artists and activists whose work falls in between resistance and creativity, culture and politics, art and life.’ Culture Jammer, Mark Hosler comments that the fringe has always been ‘absorbed’ by capitalism and that ‘what is getting absorbed now is the idea that there’s no opposition left, that any resistance is futile’ (Hosler in Klein 2000:298-9). It is understandable, then, that Lab of ii believe creating ‘hope despite capitalism’ (Lab of ii 2005).

This returns us to a notion raised at the beginning of this chapter, for this is clearly an ethos of transcendence. CIRCA, Dedomenici, the Lab of ii and contemporary creative activists are increasingly interested in an act of personal and/or collective transcendence and do not consider themselves as revolutionary. This is especially true with the emergence of the post-modern, which Foster relates to the emergence of late consumer capitalism. Ideologies in this type of society are de-centred and pluralistic, making it impossible to have a united ideological resistance, or be totally oppositional to capitalist culture (Kershaw 1992). Dedomenici comments: ‘Baudrillard once said that the only way to abstain from capitalist culture is to commit suicide. And he's dead now (Dedomenici 2007b)


Non-Violent Direct Action is a performance where the poetic and pragmatic join hands.

John Jordan (Jorden in Kershaw 1999:123)

In this study it has been shown how the carnivalesque has been developed in a contemporary society. It has acquired elements from other theories as Western culture has moved from modernism to post-modernism. Bakhtin wrote his ideas on carnivalesque applied to 1950’s Soviet Union; a time of modernity. Therefore to be applied to late-capitalist Western democracies they needed to be updated with Debord’s Society of Spectacle. This notion was implemented in 1968 to form Situationism, but since then cultural changes identified by Baudrillard put Debord’s carnival out of date. Creative activism entered into the realm of the manipulated sign and the hyper-real, and Bey introduced a new notion of carnival that took into account Baudrillard’s judgments, to form Temporary Autonomous Zone.

The move from modernism to post-modernism is reflected by a shift in the dominant ideology of activists from modernist Marxism to post-modernist Anarchism, and thus their intensions have changed from revolution, to less clear multi-faceted intentions. This is also reflected in the shift in the object of resistance; from a clear enemy, the state, to an ambiguous enemy, capitalism.

In the progression of this study from chapter 1 to chapter 2 it has travelled a journey from left to middle of Schlossman’s graph (Figure 1). This journey is a cumulative progression of consciousness; from the extreme of an unconscious use of performance as activism, to the other extreme of activism by artists where their art is the action. In the same progression, the examples looked at have cumulatively increased in their degree of ‘performativity’. Therefore, as well as an awareness of cultural changes, the carnivalesque adopted different degrees of performativity and levels of self-consciousness in creating new dramaturgies.

The efficacy of individual practices has been assessed alongside their individual dramaturgies in the main body of this work, but can an assessment be made on the differences in efficacy between them; and on the genre as a whole? Firstly, to compare them is irrelevant because they are heterogeneous. Secondly, to give an over-riding assessment would suggest a meta-perspective which is irrelevant in a pluralistic post-modern society. I agree with The Yes Men, peers of Dedomenici, who insist that comparing practices is pointless and argue that all the forms of creative protest and traditional protest complement each other; it is their combined front that is needed for change to happen (FAQ 2005).

However, I concur with Schlossman’s proposition of culture as a symbolic interaction between social worlds and that a slight change in one social world can have affect on cultural hegemony. This is because it deals the notion of culture, which naturally absorbs the specifics of the problems identified above.

Though the problems of a meta-perspective have been noted, following my investigation, it can be said that in the carnivalesque practices identified, the closer they are to the middle of Schlossman’s chart; the more they consciously utilise their inherent performativity; the more they are aware of the cultural times; the more the boundaries between performance and activism blur, then the more potential it has at affecting hegemony. Maybe this is what Abbie Hoffman meant by her call for ‘total life actors’. Kershaw gives an invaluable explanation of the importance of the use of maximum performativity in activism:

wide spread changes in the processes of the social … are producing what I call the performative society.... In such societies performance has gained a new kind of potency because multi-party democracy weaves ideological conflict visibly into the very fabric of society. It follows that, especially in highly mediatised societies, the performative becomes a major element in the continuous negotiation of power and authority; … Hence, late-capitalist multi-party democracies produce societies in which the performance pervades cultural; it becomes the sine qua non of human exchange in virtually all spheres of the social.
(Kershaw 1999:13 original italics)

The carnivalesque is essentially a form of human behaviour; it therefore can be accompanied with different forms and degrees of performance to give a piece of direct action a more anarchic and celebratory edge. Carnival, like performance, is timeless and it will continue to change in its application to activism. In the changes I have identified its essential properties remain; it will always critique the status quo and it will always produce a moment of Utopia – whether that moment forms a revolution, or is a temporary act of transcendence, or pulls at one of the strings of society, is up to the user.


Bakhtin, M. (1968) Rabelais and His World, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Brown, M. (2004) ‘Sexed-up – The Arches’, Glasgow: Herald Review.

Cohen-Cruz, J. (1998) Radical Street Performance: An International Anthology.
London: Routledge.

Dedomenici, R. (2005a) Intelligence Failure. Richard Dedomenici Products.
(2005b) Richard Dedomenici is Still an Artist. Manchester: Cornerhouse
(2006) Cable Tie. Available from the World Wide Web:
27 October 2006]
(2007) Snood of Thorns. [On line] Message to Fionn Gill, 11.04.2007.
Accessed. 11.04.2007. Personal communication.

FAQ. (2005) [Online]. The Yes Men. Available from the World Wide Web: [Accessed 5 January 2007]

Felshin, N. (1995) But is it Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism. Washington: Bay Press.

Grindon, G. (2004) ‘Carnival against Capital’, Anarchist Studies 12, 2. pgs 147-161.

Kershaw, B. (1992) The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural
Intervention. London: Routledge.
(1999) The Radical in Performance: Between Brecht and Baudrillard.
London: Routledge.

Klein, N. (2000) No Logo. London: Flamingo.

Klepto, K. (2006) Make war with love: The Clandistine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army,
Available from the World Wide Web: [Accessed 27 November 2006]

Lab of ii. (2005) [video recording] 13 experiments in hope: the lab of
insurrectionary imagination. S.I

Orenstein, C. (2001) ‘Agitational Performance, Now and Then’, Theater 31.3

Osborne, P. (2002) Conceptual Art. London: Phaidon Press.

Reclaim the Streets. (2007) [Online]. Reclaim the streets. Available from the World Wide
Web: [Accessed 14 April 2007]

Rebel Clowning: what is it? (2007) [Online]. The Clandistine Rebel Clown Army.
Available from the World Wide Web:
[Accessed 14 April 2007]

Schechner, R. (1993) The Future of Ritual. London: Routledge.

Schlossman, D. (2002) Actors and Activists: Politics, Performance, and exchange among
Social Worlds. New York & London: Routledge.

Name: Hana Tait
Course: Theatre Stage One
Institution: Dartington College Of Arts
Grade: First (78/100)

Historical Events and Land (extract)

Another project based on a land partition was Richard Dedomenici’s 1999 performance intervention ‘Break-In’. In this piece, the then Fine Art student attempted to break into Cardiff prison, scrambling up the huge razor wire topped outer wall, in the middle of the day, on a busy road. Though Dedomenici was not using any form of climbing equipment, meaning that ascent of the sheer concrete wall was nigh on impossible, it is clear from the video footage taken, that the event caused a fair amount of public interest. Talking about his own work he has said that he is “dedicated to the development and implementation of subversive strategies to undermine accepted belief systems and topple existing power structures.” (Promotional material,, 2004). In ‘Break-In’, the general public of Cardiff provide an unwitting audience to Dedomenici’s acute political manoeuvre. As a free man, why should he be partitioned off and geographically inhibited? And why should one man have the right to condemn another into a contained institution? The fact that this action ended with his arrest for ‘aggravated trespass’ only made the situation more potent. Dedomenici himself is frequently reluctant to analyze the potential interpretations of his work, or the ‘meaning’ he wishes to convey, instead using juvenile humour as a frame to present himself, so whilst he simply described this feat as a reaction to “modern life driving me up the wall” (Dedomenici, 2006, performance transcript), he will no doubt be aware of the associations such an image conjures for the viewer.

Dedomenici examines our relationship with the unquestioned barriers of authority, what happens when we step outside the comfort zones afforded to us as ‘free westerners’. In his work the performance is as much about the ‘happening’, the shift in perception that occurs when we observe the forbidden, as it is about the act taking place.

Richard Comments: In Hana's feedback her tutor said she was very unfair to suggest that my humour was juvenile, and that she should apologise to me. Her lack of apology so far, in my opinion, shows both excellent judgement and strength of character.

Name: Beth Hoffman
Course: Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Grade: TBC

Liminal-norms and the "normalisation of deviance": Richard DeDomenici's Fame Asylum (preview)

I argue that Fame Asylum is an example of live art that productively exposes the sidelined anxieties and normative effects that liminal spaces can bring about, rather than one that unequivocally affirms the cultural efficacy of liminality highlighted by Heathfield and Quick.

Name: Eva Daníèková
Course: BA Performing Arts
Institution: London Metropolitan University
Date: 20/11/07
Word Count: 1500
Grade: A

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination: A Critical Evaluation of the work of Richard Dedomenici

In this assignment I will examine and critically evaluate the work of the artist Richard Dedomenici, associated with the network of culturally and politically involved artists, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination or the ‘lab of ii’. I will briefly introduce the lab of ii and their artistic and activist aims and then I will concentrate on the work of Richard Dedomenici. I will consider two of his short works, Unattended Baggage and Pedestrian Congestion Charging and I will then move onto his performances of The Big Flyposter Draw and Cable Tie. For the purpose of this assignment, I will not take into consideration his other work. I will analyse Dedomenici’s work with reference to alternative forms of performance and discuss how his work challenges the audiences as well as the established social and political order.

Lab of ii was established in 2004 as a network of ‘socially engaged artists and activists whose work falls between resistance and creativity, culture and politics, art and life.’ ( This network is formed by artists worldwide, such as Yomango in Spain or Argentina, or the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army in the UK. Richard Dedomenici’s philosophy parallels that of the Lab of ii. He is interested in ‘development and implementation of innovative strategies designed to undermine accepted belief systems and topple existing power structures.’ ( Being the ‘one-man subversive think-tank’, Dedomenici often works alone, involving or provoking his audience, usually on the street or in smaller theatres and on the fringe.

To contextualise Dedomenici’s work, I must start with the history of performance art, its emergence in the second half of 20th century, its political affiliation and the road to respect as an art discipline. The horrors of two World Wars not only changed the world we live in but also affected the world of art. Political activism turned performance art can be seen in Italian and Russian Futurism before the First World War but, as Goldberg (1988:11) asserts, the early Futurist performance was more propaganda than actual production. Post World War 2 in the UK, political theatre was largely influenced by Brecht and took a form of Agit-Prop. Joan Littlewood was perhaps the most visible figure of the political street performance at that time. Cohen-Cruz (1998:5) includes Agit-Prop as one of the categories of street performance that attempts to mobilise people. With the Vietnam War and serious breaches of human rights elsewhere in the world (Prague Spring), came radicalisation in the arts as well as signs of disillusion with the established order. The search for the truth that marked the modernist movement shifted with the post-modern rejection of absolute truth. Performance art became more extreme, often using the artist’s body as canvas. Dedomenici emerged after 9/11 when most artists in the Western world remain openly political, anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist.

The emphasis on the body as canvas in recent art history is also apparent in Dedomenici’s work. He uses his body to provoke, protest and subvert popular beliefs. Warr (2000:11) asserts that the shift in the perception of the body addresses issues of risk, fear, death, danger and sexuality at the times when the body has been most threatened by these things. In the performance of Unattended Baggage in 2005, Dedomenici places himself inside the suitcase in Helsinki railway station. He is thus attending the baggage, only from the inside. Performing this in the height of increased security measures and the terrorist attack hysteria requires the artist to take the risk. Kershaw (1992:1) confirms that when performers aim to be politically efficacious the outcome can be, literally, arresting. In another performance of Cable Tie, Richard attempts to walk through the city of Chicago with a plastic bag on his head and his hands tied behind his back with a nylon tie. When stopped by the police, he claims that he is doing this not as a stunt but as a piece of performance for the arts festival. In fact, he is challenging the US military technique of detaining Iraqi detainees. Thus his own body becomes a political statement and the effect of a white male walking through the American city is immense as I will discuss further in connection with street performance audiences.

All of Dedomenici’s performances considered in this assignment take place in the public, therefore eliminating the pre-rehearsed performance in the safety of the enclosed space and theatrical frame. However, all of Dedomenici’s places of performance are carefully selected, possibly to achieve the biggest possible effect. He places the ‘unattended bag’ in front of the train station where the security and surveillance is no doubt high. He walks through Chicago in protest of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. He targets the public in places where his performance will have the biggest impact. Cohen-Cruz ((1998:2) suggests that the audience on the street is different as the performance is entirely public and free of charge. Cohen-Cruz also asserts that the temporal context of the performance responds directly to events as they occur (ibid). Dedomenici himself says that ‘art is at its most powerful when witnessed by non-art audiences’ (The Power of Art), i.e. the public on the street. The public response varies from positive when people engage in the artistic project to negative or even abusive as we can see in Pedestrian Congestion Charging or Cable Tie. In either case, Dedomenici always creates a reaction in the public. Richard contributes the fact that hooding detainees was prohibited as a means of punishing detainees shortly after his Chicago performance to the shamanistic properties of performance art. The fact is that the news of his walk through the streets of Chicago has spread quickly in the town and across the borders.

In The Big Flyposter Draw Dedomenici defaced the illegal posters and got the passers-by involved in writing this statement over the illegal posters: ‘Defacing something that’s illegally stuck to a wall is not against the law.’ Here he took a stab at major music corporations, often advertising on illegal poster sites. The public interest he caused did not go unnoticed by the police who could not arrest Richard as he was perfectly within the law. In his own statement, this performance was to ‘promote new legal pastime for the whole community which will both unleash the creative potential of the population and discourage illegal flyposting of major corporations.’ He acknowledges the risk he has to undertake within his artistic practice. Cohen-Cruz (1998:3) suggests that the radical performers are often brave to the point of arrogance and who impose their shows on people who have not chosen to be spectators. Dedomenici thus not only provokes the ingrained power structures but he provokes the audience to action. Cohen-Cruz (1998:5) would categorise Dedomenici’s work as that of a ‘witness’; publicly illuminating a social act that one does not know how to change but must acknowledge. Dedomenici not only witnesses himself but makes the public his fellow culprits in the fight against the establishment.

Performance art and radical street art offers an alternative to the pre-rehearsed, pre-organised mainstream theatre. Dedomenici works in both the streets and inside the theatres. He often calls his theatre performance a ‘lecture’ and he shows the footage of his outside performance to the audience. He combines art with activism in an obvious manner. Walking through the streets of Chicago with a plastic bag on his head, he sees the city through the condensation and claims to have a sense of tranquillity. His inner experience is thus possibly as important as the response he creates with his performance. For Richard, like for many other performance artists, the process of the performance is more important than its outcome. It is his visibility and the reaction that he provokes with his art that count. Dedomenici’s performance could be considered alternative, as it destabilises the ingrained notions of what theatre and performance should be and it shakes the perception that the system we live in is flawless. Challenging of these notions is the central motive of the post-modern performance art. Kershaw (1999:7-13) suggests that these performative societies are found particularly where democracy and capitalism meet and, according to the post-modern view, even the claim that democracy might be the best political system, can seem dangerously totalitarian.

Goldberg (1988:210) suggests that performance can be anything at all but for the artist, working without rules and guidelines is a means to break through the limits imposed on art activity. Richard Dedomenici, in his unconventional and provocative way, bypasses these limitations, even if it means taking the risk. His unorthodox street performance creates a considerable response in the unsuspecting audience, exposed to his artistic vision of the world. Thanks to the widespread media, Richard’s work reaches even bigger audiences. Richard takes his responsibility as a witness to an injustice seriously and takes action through his art, often using his own body as a means of expression. The power of his art lies in the location of his performance, in the public sphere where it has the most impact, as well as in his subversive, unconventional behaviour that challenges the acceptable norms.


Cohen-Cruz, Jan, Radical Street Performance, London: Routledge, 1998

Dedomenici, Richard, Power of Art: Part Three, video material,

Goldberg, RoseLee, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present, London: Thames and Hudson, 1988

Kershaw, Baz, The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention, London: Routledge, 1992

Kershaw, Baz, The Radical in Performance: Between Brecht and Baudrillard, London: Routledge, 1999

Richard Dedomenici,, accessed 12.11.2007

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, 13 Experiments in Hope, DVD, 2005

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination,, accessed 12.11.2007

Warr, Tracey, The Artist’s Body, Phaidon, 2000


Friends of Richard Dedomenici

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Normalisation of Deviance
Richard DeDomenici
Purchase Here

A term used in industrial psychology, specifically in reference to NASA shuttle disasters, Normalisation of Deviance describes the gradual shift in what is regarded as acceptable after repeated exposures to aberrant behaviour.

Artist and self-styled one-man subversive think-tank Richard DeDomenici ascribes this phenomenon to the fact that after six years of instinctively making work that sidesteps the gallery system, in 2007 he was offered, and accepted, a solo London gallery show.

This dvd comprises the rolling video programme from the Normalisation of Deviance exhibition, plus bonus material.


1. Cable-Tie Chicago 2004 7min
2. Boris Liverpool 2004 3min
3. The Big Flyposter Draw London 2004 3min
4. BBC Pilot London 2005 4min
5. Unattended Baggage Helsinki 2005 1min
6. House Arrest London 2005 3min
7. Pedestrian Congestion Charging Edinburgh 2005 2min
8. EscalatorChair Hamburg 2006 2min
9. Fame Asylum: Status Performance #4 London 2006 6min
10. Honky Tonk Woman Beijing 2006 2min
11. Proof of Concept Galway 2007 2min
12. Unsolicited Channel Four Ident Galway 2007 0min
13. Tag Vienna Vienna 2007 6min

Bonus Material

Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back? (Extract) Exeter 2006 20min
SuperJumbo (Extract) Edinburgh 2007 13min
Plagiarism (Preview) London 2007 7min
Rub Me Up The Wrong Way Norwich 2007 4min
Tag Vienna Interview Vienna 2007 3min
Fornicating Swans London 2007 2min
Get Locked in a Box London 2007 2min
Tag Manchester 2007 10min

A Normalisation of Deviance gallery publication is also included (some self-assembly required).

Total Running Time: 92 minutes approx.

©2008 Richard DeDomenici Products

An on-demand dvd for Unbound. Unbound: Live Art publishing and distribution. A Live Art Development Agency initiative.

Every effort has been made to ensure this dvd is compatible with all computer and dvd players, however, compatibility can not be guaranteed. This dvd is protected by copyright. Unauthorised copying, hiring, lending, public performance, broadcasting of this dvd is prohibited. All rights reserved.



Many thanks to:

Genevieve Webb
Ange Taggart
James Leadbitter
Claire Bates
Chris Graham
Jack Cheshire
Mikko Kuorinki
Pasco Kevlin
Mark Wayman
Luci Briginshaw
Jenny Edbrook
Abi Cunliffe
Maeve Mulrennen
Aine Phillips
Anne Sellers
Nicola Balfour
Helmut Smits
Richard Davies
Murdo Mcleod
Jessica Richardson
Andrew R Darbyshire
Nik Kennedy
Anthony Roberts