Ruben de Roo

Ruben De Roo studied art history and performing arts in Ghent, Antwerp and Utrecht. He was active in several Flemish and Dutch theatre collectives. Since 2005 he has been affiliated with the RITS School of Arts for audiovisual and performing arts in Brussels as an assistant within the performing arts section. Currently he is working on his PhD in the Department of Theatre Studies at Utrecht University. The RITS School of Arts funds his research.

PhD research
The research Art as critique of everyday life focuses on the cultural performances of the sixties in Europe. Within this PhD project, these performances are seen as a challenge for society in which social norms are questioned. The playful and creative challenge of the performances took place at several levels: against art, against the art establishment and finally also against society in general. Several artists have with their recalcitrant attitude not only launched inspiring artistic actions but also made of their life into a form of artwork. What these artistic performances have in common is a blurring of boundaries between reality and art together with a quest for artistic action and political change. Very often, these cultural actions occurred outside the official art circuit and mostly just in the streets. The disconnection from the museological organisation goes so far that it sometimes seems as though it has little to do with art. The goal of many of these artists was therefore not to change art, but to appropriate everyday life.

Strikingly, this challenge is also manifest on a philosophical level. Several philosophers form the sixties tried to transform the world by the transcending and overcoming of philosophy. Instead of focusing on fixed systems to describe reality, they advocated a way of thinking that opened up possibilities. One of those thinkers is Henri Lefebvre who wrote extensively on the concept of everyday life. With his critique on everyday life he creates a consciousness on the alienation of men. Via a dialectical process, he wants to install a dynamic movement to transform daily reality.

This PhD describes and analyses the contamination between theory and praxis. It interrogates the philosophy of everyday life together with the cultural performances to determine new possibilities. The past from the sixties is used to live again and to serve the future.

(2011) Art and Activism in the Age of Globalisation. (together with Lieven De Cauter and Karel Vanhaesebrouck), Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.