Making beauty necessary and necessity beautiful


  • Astrid von Kotze University of the Western Cape, South Africa



Aesthetics, conscientisation, popular education, workshop theatre


The article shows how unemployed working-class women in South Africa, through collective aesthetic experiences, achieved a sense of catharsis that strengthened the resolve to work towards creating alternatives. The text is based on a series of popular education workshops that were recorded in sound and images, and interviews with individual emerging artists. It draws on theory developed in practice by workers in the nineteen-eighties when they asserted their dignity and humanity as creative subjects and demonstrates how the women, some twenty-five years later, articulate a similar defiance. The article suggests that certain preconditions must be met before the process of conscientisation through creative work can achieve its objective of preparing participants for action: repoliticise art and education by building radically horizontal relationships; create a playful third space for experimentation and generating knowledge, and encourage improvisations that allow contradictions to emerge and be examined critically.


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How to Cite

von Kotze, A. (2019). Making beauty necessary and necessity beautiful. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 10(2), 171–184.