Heather McLean (UK)

Monday 31. October – Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts


ABSTRACT: Hos in the Garden: Staging and Resisting Neoliberal Creativity

Combining feminist methodological approaches, my talk will explore two Toronto-based case studies. Firstly, I discuss an arts-led regeneration strategy that strove to ‘re-invent’ one former manufacturing neighbourhood into a community-engaged arts hub. I then reflect on my personal experience performing drag king urban planning expert Toby Sharp alongside Dirty Plötz, a queer and feminist cabaret collective. Referring to these examples, I explore how neoliberal arts policies entangle feminist artists in the cultivation of spaces of depoliticized feminism, homonormativity, white privilege, and settler colonialism. However, I also demonstrate how radical cabaret provides space for women artists to playfully and performatively push back at hegemonic urban policies and practices on multiple fronts.


Heather McLean is an Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders Fellow based at the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. Her work investigates the connections between ‘creative city- and urban regeneration planning, cuts to public services and the rise of precarious labour practices in Toronto and Glasgow. She also examines the political potential of cabaret, alter-ego performance, and stand-up comedy to imagine alternative urban futures and theoretical orientations.



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