Richard DeDomenici on Performance Art and Gentrification

In this incredibly entertaining keynote speech from day one of Zealous X Talks, performance artist Richard DeDomenici talks about everything from making London affordable for working artists, to how his artistic works have predicted the future…well, sort of.

Richard delivered a keynote speech which provided glimpses into his often surreal projects. In the past he has dressed up as an escaped Iraqi prisoner of war (complete with bag over head) and also performed a feminist version of Bucks Fizz where it’s the turn of the men to have half their outfits whipped off for entertainment. All of this is fun and clever, but also highlights the power of Performance Art to create little interventions in the daily fabric of life. The little snags which jolt us out of our routine and stale thought processes.

Whilst making us laugh with the observation that artists are ultimately to blame for gentrification (where artists go, commercial interests follow), he also made serious points about the future of a city where talented creative people can no longer afford to exist in the midst of the action.

In our time, is London at risk or becoming cash rich but culture poor? The homogenisation of our local high streets sadly supports this view. However, something tells us that the city’s commercial giants may not be prepared for the delightfully absurdist guerrilla tactics of someone like Richard who is engaged in projects aiming for aggressive de-gentrification.

One such project is the Microhouse which is designed to be a benign looking temporary parasitic structure which can be latched onto commercial buildings to reclaim space for the commons! He understands it’s a hard sell in terms of funding, but insists we keep our eyes peeled.

Finally, Richard presented case studies of his unconventional and thought-provoking projects which excited, entertained and inspired both attendees and social media followers who used twitter to show their admiration. Even Zealous’s founder Guy Armitage couldn’t help but joining his fan base!

Guy Armitage ‏@guyarmitage Jan 11
I want @DeDomenici to run for prime minister! Humour and common sense in one perfect package! #ZealousX

Rhiannon Faith ‏@RhiannonFaith Jan 11
I think @DeDomenici should go on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square #ZealousX #artistsnspaces

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Zealous X Talks is a weekly video podcast of all the talks, panel discussions and keynotes, from the Zealous X Festival, where the UK’s leading thinkers, artists, policy makers, marketers, technologists and museum professionals, (and more!) come together to explore, challenge and debate on the current state of our creative industries.