Cooing Over the Golden Phallus

A increasing number of popular documentary films are employing prankster tactics for political effect.  With a heritage stretching back to the Yippies, the Situationists, and beyond, prankster activists harness broad dissatisfaction with contemporary society and express it in visceral, anarchic, experiential form. This paper considers and critiques these practices in light of the politics of the spectacle they engage. Specifically, what types of political activity – individualist or collective, transcendent or engaged, patriarchal or feminist – are suggested by the prankster-activist?  What economic and gender relations are engaged by pranksters, and do politicized pranksters reinforce these underlying schema even as they temporarily turn the tables on their powerful targets?  Does the popular reception of prankster politics represent a fulfillment of its promise to make dissent more ‘fun’?  If so, what kind of fun are we having, and what kind of politics are we not doing while we’re having it?

Kanouse, Sarah, “Cooing Over the Golden Phallus,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest 4 (2005): 21-31.

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Additional Publications

Publications grouped here are intended for a non-art audience, are short-form reflections on a creative work, or are commissioned and unrefereed. PDFs are supplied for all refereed publications, though editorial rather than blind peer review may have been the vetting mechanism.

Book Chapter

Kanouse, Sarah, “Installation Art,” in John Downing, ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media (London: Sage, 2010), 272-279.

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Journal Articles

Greenwald, Dara, and Sarah Kanouse “What the Market Bares,” Critical Planning 18 (2011): 92-98

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Kanouse, Sarah, “Tactical Irrelevance: Art and Politics at Play,” The Democratic Communiqué 20(2) (2007): 23-39.

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Brown, N., R. Griffis, K. Hamilton, S. Irish, and S. Kanouse, “What makes justice spatial? What makes spaces just?” Critical Planning 14 (2007): 7-28.

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Kanouse, Sarah, “Marc Tasman,” Mary L. Nohl Fellowship Exhibition Catalog, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, 2007 (unnumbered)

Kanouse, Sarah and Nicholas Brown, “Urban, Rural, Wild,” AREA: Art Research Education Activism 1:4 (2005)

Cover image: Art book spines, photo by Sarah Kanouse