KIDNAP@20: The Art of Incarceration A one-day performance symposium Friday 20th July from 12.30pm @ Martin Harris Centre, University of Manchester

Annamaria monteverdi/ Maggio 21, 2018/ NEWS

In July 1998, the performance company BLAST THEORY did something a little different. Instead of making a theatre piece about a kidnapping, they actually kidnapped two unsuspecting victims – snatching them out of their daily lives and then imprisoning them, under constant webcam surveillance, for 48 hours. The abductees had made themselves available for kidnap by entering a lottery, which must have seemed like a fun idea at the time…

Widely covered in the press and media, KIDNAP caught the public imagination as an edgy example of what the internet was now making possible. A pivotal event in Blast Theory’s evolution as a company, the piece also anticipated all kinds of subsequent developments in the wider culture — from the round-the-clock surveillance of reality TV shows like Big Brother, to the 21st century vogue for audience participation in live art, and the contemporary ubiquity of ‘escape rooms’ (getting yourself locked up for kicks).

KIDNAP@20 is a one-day symposium marking the piece’s 20th anniversary, which will look back at where we were then, and ask where we are now. What has changed in the realms of digital art and technology, participatory performance, and the politics of consent? When, how and why do surveillance, imprisonment, and power games become art or entertainment?

To sign up for this FREE event, please visit our Eventbrite page: 


Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj  (Blast Theory core artists)

John McGrath (Artistic Director, Manchester International Festival; author of Loving Big Brother)

Saul Hewish (Artistic Director, Rideout: Creative Arts for Rehabilitation)

Ali Matthews and Niki Woods (University of Salford & Blast Theory)

Tamsin Drury (hAb) and Dave Carter (University of Manchester)

Matt Fenton (Artistic Director, Contact)

Petra Tauscher (Dramaturg and Producer, HOME Manchester)

Professor Stephen Coleman (University of Leeds)

… and further contributors to be confirmed.

The event includes a screening of the film document of KIDNAP (30 mins) and reflections on other relevant work, including Rideout’s Cell Project (2016) and Ali Matthews’ What the Money Meant (2014).
For further information please contact the organiser, Stephen
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