• Le Fantôme de la liberté

Leo Rafolt: Montažstroj's Emancipatory Performance Politics・Never Mind the Score


Cover image: A scene from Everybody Goes to Disco from Moscow to San Francisco

by Montažstroj

© Radomir Sarađen


Lexington Books

october 2022






This book deals with the broader theoretical and philosophical context of performance art in former Yugoslavia, focusing on more than three decades of politically engaged performance activity of the Montažstroj group. Their activity is only a starting point for a deeper analysis of some of the key notions of contemporary “art-ivism” in a much broader post-political and globalized context before, during, and after Yugoslavia and its Socialist paradigm collapsed. The author analyzes and sets notions of agonism, engagement, terrorism, post-war trauma, political populism, social Darwinism, participation and publicness, and the public sphere into different theoretical matrixes.



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Montažstroj’s Emancipatory Performance Politics confronts us with the necessity of writing and performing theory in a time of permanent global crisis, pandemics, war conflicts, terrorism, economic fractures, and public broken narratives. The starting points are in performance studies and applications to real life forms. Leo Rafolt constantly provokes his reader and interprets, transgresses, reveals potential traps, gives solutions, and turns answers into challenges of performativity.”

Miodrag Šuvaković, Singidunum University



“Rafolt’s inspired, theoretically grounded, and detailed analyses represent a significant contribution to performance studies, as well as to the analysis of interconnections between emancipatory regimes in arts and society. They will therefore be read both for their depth of insights and for the wealth of information they provide.”

Zoran Milutinović, University College London



“Rafolt’s latest book has every reason to become an academic classic, in theater and performance studies, cultural studies, as well as Slavic studies. It is a well-written, heavily documented, and theoretically grounded analysis of the contemporary world performatively structured on two dogmas: the free market and liberal democracy. Rafolt weaves a critical tale based on an analysis of the performative production of the internationally renowned group Montažstroj.”

Maciej Falski, University of Warsaw



“This book captures those elusive folds of performance-with-resistance, reading them against the backscreen of Eastern European and Pan-European political and intellectual histories. It uses a long-standing project to showcase an intricate and fascinating theoretical analysis of performing practices as they play with, within, and against violent capitalist modernities. Students and scholars across the overlapping fields of performance studies, dance studies, post-communist studies, queer studies, European studies, and those familiar with various left-wing traditions of critical theory and intellectual history will find this book to be an elucidating and inspiring contribution to their respective fields.”

Aljoša Pužar, University of Ljubljana



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LEO RAFOLT teaches performance studies, cultural theory, and theoretical dramaturgy as a full professor at the Academy of Arts and Culture of Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek, Croatia.