Celebrity Tourorists & the ‘Terrible’ Spectacle of Re-territorializing Trauma in Chechnya’s Post-Urbacide City

Wilford, A. (2015) Celebrity Tourorists & the ‘Terrible’ Spectacle of Re-territorializing Trauma in Chechnya’s Post-Urbacide City. In: American Society Of Theatre Research, November 5-8 2015, Portland, Oregon. (Unpublished)

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“I pay a lot of attention to details... I read. I do my research.”
– Hilary Swank speaking in Grozny, Chechnya, 10/5/2011.
This paper will employ a biopolitical critical frame for the performance analysis of: Oscar-winning filmstar
Hilary Swank; Hollywood kickboxing icon Jean Claude Van-Damme; virtuouso violinist Vanessa
Mae; and 90’s UK pop-act Seal, in their live appearances at President Ramzan Kadyrov’s 35th birthday
celebrations and ‘re-booting’ of Grozny, Chechnya, on October 5th 20111.
Within this critical framework, the multi-million dollar event will be viewed through the ideological
transparency of three associated objectives: as reinforcement of political sovereignty; as re-launch of a
regenerated post-urbacide city; and in re-moving the traumatic legacies from 21st Century acts of
genocide. The cathartic qualities of the event will be then set within a super-objective ‘re-branding’ of
Chechen cultural identity both purged from totalized ‘terror’ spectacle and transformed into a utopic
state for totally spectacular ‘tourism’.
Whilst examining both the responses and consequence from their live-streamed appearance, this
paper will position the artists as celebrity forms for what Phipps first configured as the ‘tourorist’
(Phipps, 1999: 74) in an ethico-aesthetic interrogation of their acts. Fusing a ‘disjunctive synthesis’
(Deleuze, 2004: 55) in the choice of artists; inflections from their associated materials; and the
‘zachistka’ that defined Russian-led post-1999 counter-terror operations in Chechnya, President
Ramzan Kadyrov will be recast as the hybrid ‘becoming-sovereign of the beast’ (Derrida, 2009: 32)3.

Deleuze, G (2004) The Logic Of Sense. London & New York. The Athlone Press.
Derrida, J. (2009) The Beast & The Sovereign: Volume I. Chicago & London. University Of Chicago Press.
Phipps, P. (1999) Tourists, Terrorists, Death and Value in Kaur, R. & Hutnyk, J. [eds](1999) Travel Worlds:
Journeys In Contemporary Cultural Politics. London & New York. Zed Books. pp74-93
Event / Performance Broadcast
The 5hr Chechen state’s broadcast is available to view on YouTube.
Original Post uploaded on 7th October by TheTumso Channel as Открытие делового центра "Грозный Сити
05.10.11. (The Opening Of The Business Center “Grozny City”) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWiuCvxyU4g
(Last Accessed: 19.4.2015)

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theater
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2041 Performance studies
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > Theatre
Event Title: American Society Of Theatre Research
Event Location: Portland, Oregon
Event Dates: November 5-8 2015
Depositing User: Andrew Wilford
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2016 09:59
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2016 09:59
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/2047

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