GLiTtERfeStO Redux

An Open Love Letter in Trinity Formation For A Revolutionary Movement Of Activist Performance Based On The Premise That Social Justice Is Fabulous

TL Cowan

GLITTERfesto Part I

GLITTER does not stand for anything, although you are welcome to turn it into an acronym of your own devising. It is utopian and apocalyptic. It believes in faeries in so far as many of us are not human.1

GLITTER, once you’ve been implicated, is impossible to shake; it marks you well into the future and requires that you wear it on your person, even unintentionally. It is a public declaration of affinity.

GLITTER is not for everyone. GLITTER demands that we are careful with it and with each other. Non-consensual glittering is not GLITTER.

GLITTER is a demonstration. It will happen anywhere it can and many places it can’t.

GLITTER is a rental. GLITTER is on the ground with dog shit and other garbage. GLITTER is a megaphone. GLITTER is in bad taste and has bad credit. GLITTER is excessive, loud, large, clever, exuberant, open, loving, angry, sharp, indignant, melodramatic, pragmatic, absurd, illegitimate, too-tight, as well as baggy, shrouded, as well as over-exposed. GLITTER succeeds from time to time. The success of GLITTER is determined by GLITTER’s own criteria and idea of itself, which is always changing and relative.

GLITTER is an aestheticized politics of action. GLITTER risks being obvious.

GLITTER is a loose affinity of shiny demons.

GLITTER takes on hard topics and strives for incoherence. GLITTER is the simultaneous expression of contradictory feelings and knowledges. GLITTER simply revels in complexity.

GLITTER is inspired by millions of genius artists and activists who may or may not know who they are, and who may or may not identify with or as GLITTER.

GLITTERfesto Part II: Guidelines for GLITTER-based Performance

1. There must be GLITTER in some form on the performers or in the performance space, or the ESSENCE OF GLITTER in the form of innovative curses, everyday swearing, glamour, fancy dancing, self-deprecating humour, jibes or other kinds of jokes, voice alterations and instrumentation through, for example, beat-boxing or electronic magic, jigs, any form of contortionism, delight, high-kicks, or GLITTER REPLACEMENTS such as breakfast cereals, beads, grains, feathers, tinsel, tassels, stickers, bubbles, candy, or other forms of elaborate embodied embellishment.

2. GLITTER-based performance is finding GLITTER REPLACEMENTS that are not microplastics. From now on GLITTER = GLITTER REPLACEMENTS.

3. GLITTER-based performance is disorienting; its goal is to transform public space into a funhouse mirror room full of tiny disco balls. GLITTER spins madly, winks, twinkles, makes people want to dance or vomit, encourages people to think of the past and future simultaneously, and to think of themselves and their personal effects through variations on a kaleidoscope.

4. GLITTER-based performance incriminates the audience via any of the following modes: direct interaction, call-and-response, thoughtfully arranged, and chaotically rearranged tables and chairs, throwing GLITTER on the audience if they want it.

5. GLITTER audiences are also performers. GLITTER encourages us to FEEL strongly and to LOVE each other, while also providing a reassuring sense of shame, guilt, risk, or illicit pleasure, all of which can be powerful motivating forces of mutual recognition, and thus have revolutionary potential. In the same way that GLITTER sticks, the intense FEELINGS should be almost impossible to shake, even if that intense FEELING is a shared boredom.

6. GLITTER-based performance is improvised. GLITTER revels in uncertainty but practices its tricks. Rehearsal is GLITTER. Sometimes GLITTER has mishaps.

7. GLITTER-based performance is not concerned with reality, except to transform it into something more fair and fabulous.

8. GLITTER-based performance participates in sliding-scale, pay-what-you-can (PWYC) or volunteer-and-get-in-for-free (VAGIFF) and other forms of anti-capitalist economies. GLITTER is a fundraiser that pays performance artists for their work. GLITTER is a dreamer.

9. GLITTER-based performance is as queer as can be and aims to create a queer space where white supremacy, male supremacy, rich-supremacy and world minority-supremacy are rendered ridiculous. GLITTER-based performance is bossy interloper trans feminists, queers, sex workers, border hoppers, and stowaways in brilliant coalition.

10. GLITTER-based performance acknowledges outright that organized religion almost always screws with people. GLITTER-based performance works to reverse or at least neutralize the negative effects of organized religion through the power of GLITTER.

11. GLITTER-based performance strategically pretends like everything is okay. This is an impatient survival strategy. GLITTER knows that everything is not okay.

12. GLITTER-based performance is informed and motivated by love, but is not necessarily happy. GLITTER-based performance is, in many instances, characterized by rage.

13. GLITTER-based performance ensures that a lot of things are going on at once. For this reason, collaboration, multimedia presentations, costume changes, stripping, crowd surfing, mechanical devices, displays of sexual intimacy or sexual alienation (solo or in a group), displays of virtuosity, radical actions that inspire resolute feelings of agitated resistance, lip-synching, gyrating, and so on … are all encouraged.

14. GLITTER-based performance provokes, but not for the sake of provocation alone; the limits of GLITTER-based performance are always changing. Risk and adaptation are necessary.

15. GLITTER-based performance is game, regardless of what anyone thinks or what time it is.


GLITTER is fabulous and will not be diminished.

GLITTER claims frivolity as a badge of honour.

GLITTER is millions of tiny mirrors that show our best and worst selves.

GLITTER helps us share our best selves and change our worst selves. Sometimes we are on our knees.

GLITTER gets everywhere.

GLITTER makes mistakes.

GLITTER fabulates.

GLITTER apologizes and takes responsibility.

GLITTER cannot be contained.

GLITTER is glory and shame, flipsides.

GLITTER resists indifference.

GLITTER revels in the effeminate.

GLITTER rivals bold.

GLITTER is glam.

GLITTER is cheap.

GLITTER is sparkle.

GLITTER is magnificent.

GLITTER, unlike chalk, does not wash away.

GLITTER identifies.

GLITTER is for all ages.

GLITTER transcends confetti.

GLITTER reminds.

GLITTER takes a hit.

GLITTER takes over.

GLITTER is a trans*formational politic.

GLITTER is carnival.

GLITTER keeps going long after the safety valve has blown.

GLITTER grabs and resists.

GLITTER is in the spotlight.

GLITTER is juvenile.

GLITTER curses.

GLITTER is BYOEverything.

GLITTER is DITogether.

GLITTER marks you.

GLITTER does not assimilate.

GLITTER is donated and given away.

GLITTER is a clown, a mime, a dancer, a revolutionary.

GLITTER is love.

GLITTER is fierce.

GLITTER is mad.

GLITTER is on wheels.

GLITTER limps and lisps.

GLITTER yells and whispers, depending on the context, and not always in the right context.

GLITTER tries to listen but is hard of hearing.

GLITTER is thick.

GLITTER cares but does not condescend.

GLITTER has many rhyming cheers and a few hymns.

GLITTER is the show going on and on.

GLITTER is without permit.

GLITTER has an intergenerational memory.

GLITTER has ambivalence about a long future.

GLITTER is right now, today.

GLITTER might last a long time but does not consider longevity a sign of success.

GLITTER time is glitched.

GLITTER interrupts.

GLITTER rests.

GLITTER exaggerates.

GLITTER takes things too seriously.

GLITTER uses too many exclamation marks in emails.

GLITTER will not be asked to smile.

GLITTER is on an affect strike.

GLITTER is sexy, obviously.

GLITTER looks good on every body. But not every body wants GLITTER and GLITTER respects that.

GLITTER loves surgeries we need and want.

GLITTER is a set of values without a system.

GLITTER is an escape.

GLITTER is a world.

GLITTER is in therapy.

GLITTER is on meds.

GLITTER needs to lie down.

GLITTER wants a cool dark place.

GLITTER is in pain.

GLITTER does not worry about authenticity.

GLITTER is below and above.

GLITTER is REALLY against settler colonialism and white supremacy.

GLITTER is triumphant.

GLITTER has its own moral code that no one can put their finger on.

GLITTER is resistance.

GLITTER has great stories to tell and tells them. Sometimes the stories are longer or less coherent than usual.

GLITTER is in-progress.

GLITTER forgets.

GLITTER is still.

GLITTER fidgets.

GLITTER recognizes that most of us are on stolen land.

GLITTER is intentional and accidental.

GLITTER has adventures and misadventures.

GLITTER is ludic, usually.

GLITTER is lucid, barely.

GLITTER is for everyday as a special occasion.

GLITTER is shiny dirt.

TL Cowan

T.L. Cowan (she/they) is an Associate Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Arts Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, as well as a cabaret and video artist. Her creative-research practice moves between page, stage, and screen.

  1. Originally written in New York City in 2012, in the context of Occupy Wall Street. Original title: An Open Call in Trinity Formation For A Revolutionary Movement Of Activist Performance Based On The Premise That Social Justice Is Fabulous