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A Term Hard to Pin Down

Peggy lDl'l€l3.|'l

Performativity is everywhere - in daily behavior, in the professions, on the internet and media, in the arts, and in

Per for mati ve Wr i ti ng

language. It is a term very difficult to pin down. The words Performative writing is different from personal criticism “performative” and “performativity” have a wide range of or autobiographical essay, although it owes a lot to both meanings. Sometimes these Words are used precisely, But genres. Performative writing is an attempt to find a moreioften they are used loosely to indicate something that form for “what philosophy wishes all the same to say." is “like a performance” Without actually being a performRather than describing the performance event in “direct ance in the orthodox or formal sense. “Performative” is both signification,” a task I believe to be impossible and not a noun and an adjective. The noun indicates a word or terrifically interesting, Iwant this writing to enact the sentence that does something (I will explain this shortly).The affective force of the performance event again, as it adjective inflects what it modifies with performanceplays itself out in an ongoing temporarity made vivid by like qualities, such as “performative writing” (See Phelan the psychic process of distortion (repression, fantasy, box). “Performativity” is an even broader term, covering . and the general hubbub of the individual and collective

a whol si>ihtiesTopehe'd up by a vvorlclln

unconscious), and made marrow by the muscular force

differences between media and live events, originals

and digital or biological clones, performing onstage and in 'ordinary life are collapsing. Increasingly, social, political, economic, personal, and artistic realities take on the qualities of performance. In this sense, performativity is similar to what I called “as” performance in chapter 2. In performance studies, performativity points to a variety of topics, among them the construction of social reality

of political repression in all its mutative violence. II. . .] Performative writing is solicitous of affect even while it is nervous and tentative about the consequences of that solicitation. Alternately bold and coy, manipulative and unconscious, this writing points both to itself and to the "scenes" that motivate it. .

1 9 9 7 ,

M o u r n i n g

S e x ,

1 1 - 1 2

‘skinning gender and race, the restored behavior quality of Tperformances, and the complex relationship of performance

practice to performance theory. Some of these topics are Févered in other chapters; some will be dealt with here. In li

l, l


fact, performativity is a major underlying theme of this book taken as a Whole. Understanding performativity can be helped

Performatives and Speech Acts

by examining certain key terms, theories, and artistic The concept of the performative was explained by linguistic philosopher L. Austin in lectures delivered in 1955 at practices: Harvard University (posthumously edited and published as How to Do Things with Words). Austin coined the word

' Austin ’s performatives ° Searle ’s speech acts

“performative” to describe utterances such as, “I take this woman to be my lawful wedded Wife” or “I name this ship the Qieen Elizabeth” or “I bet you ten dollars it will rain tomorrow” (see Austin box 1). In these cases, as Austin notes, “To say something is to do something.” In uttering certain sentences people perform acts. Promises, bets,

° postmodernism ʼ simulations

° poststructuralism ° constructions of gender ° constructions of race

' connections between performativity and performance art .

curses, contracts, and judgments do not describe or represent actions: they are actions. Performatives are an active part of



“real life.” Even when the heart says “no,” if the tongue says “yes” a performative occurs. If the tongue says “I do" at

J. L_ Austin

the wedding or “l bet $lO0” at the poker table, the act sticks, Many performatives combine physical acts and words

Theatre the Parasite

f pushing chips onto the table, signing the wedding contract, etc. A performative is “infelicitous” (to use Austinʼs word) if

[. . .] a performative utterance will [_ . .1 be in apecu//ar way hollow or void if said by an actor on the stage, or if introduced in a poem, or spoken in soliloquy. [__ .]

uttered in inappropriate circumstances. Saying “I name you The Richard” and smashing a champagne bottle against the bow of a ship I have no business christening does not make it so. The utterances of characters on a stage are also

Language in such circumstances is in special ways ~

intelligibly - used not seriously, but in ways parasitic


upon its normal use -ways which fall under the doctrine

J. t_Austin

consideration. Our performative utterances [_ _ .] are to

of etio/ations of language. All this we are exc/uding from be understood as issued in ordinary circumstances. 1962, How To Do Things With Vl/ords, 22

The Performative The term L . .Il “performative” is derived, of course, from “perform” [_ . .]: it indicates that the issuing of

Jacques D¤l'l'|ClEl

the utterance is the performing ot an action. [_ . .Il

The uttering of the words is, indeed, usually a, or

I even the, leading incident in the performance ofthe act

Successful Performatives are Impure

E. . .].

1962, How To Do Things With Words, 6-8

For, ultimately, isn't it true that what Austin excludes

as anomaly, exception, “non-serious," citation (on stage, in a poem, or a soliloquy) is the determined

modification of a general citationality - or rather, a

Characters swear, bet, and marry, but the actors do

general iterabil ity - without which there would not even

not. The performative utterances of actors speaking as

be a “successful” performative? So that- a paradoxical but unavoidable conclusion - a successful performative

characters are, according to Austin, “parasitic [. _ etiolations of language” (see Austin box 2). In his own way, Austin, like Plato, bans the poets. But within a generation, jacques Derrida brings them back by pointing out that all utterances are infelicitous. To Derrida, speech in the theatre is a “determined modification” of a “general iterability” (see

is necessarily an “impure" performative E. . .1? 1988 [1972], “Signature, Event, Context," in Limited Inc., 17

Derrida box 1). By 1972, when Derrida Wrote this, the

uses of Austin’s “performative” had expanded exponentially. Given the collapse of categories that marks the postmodern period, it is not surprising that Austinʼs term took off on its own in a protean manner (see Parker and Sedgwick box).

One of those first to expand Austin’s performatives was ]ohn R. Searle (1932~), who in the 1960s asserted that the

basic Lmit of communication was the “speech act” (see Searle b0X).Yet, like Austin before him, Searle separates “normal real world talk” from “parasitic forms of discourse such as fiction, play acting, etc.” Searle and Austin take this position because they don’t recognize that art can be a model for rather than a mirror of life. But many people have been for quite

some time very aware of the collapsing differences between

“fiction” and the “real.” This is not only, or even mostly, a matter of theory, but a practice in performance art, media, film, the internet, experimental theatre, and the visual arts. In fact, notions of performativity permeate culture. Popular films of the late 1990s, such as Wag the Dog, The Truman Show, Ed TV, and The Blair Witch Project explore the very porous membrane separating the “real” from the

“staged” The movies are fictions about dissolving the differences between the real and the fictional. Reality television goes much further. Shows such as Survivor strive to

erase the distinctions between the real and the staged. Survivor contestants were drawn from the public (not stars) and



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the additional thrill of participating in the “fruits” of

The fact is, the tons of money in play on television, and the fierce struggle among networks for viewer share, have eroded the walls once separating “entertainment,” “news,” and “sports” lt’s all entertainment now - ironically, that’s where “reality” is located.What is true of TV is doubly so on

colonialism.Take, for example, the manufactured expedition into central Africa of British adventurer Henry Morgan Stanley (1841-1904), assigned by The New York Herald to find “missing” explorer David Livingstone (1813»73).

After months of looking, Stanley located Livingstone in

the internet, where 24--hour webcams broadcast a continuous 1871 at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. At the moment of first stream of “reality” (see figure 5.1). Here there are fewer meeting, Stanley tells us he spoke the famous one-liner,

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” But did he, actually? We have only Stanley’s word for it. Stanley’s expedition was cooked up and exploited by The Herald, who owned and published

Stanley’s account. The colonial practice of entering the “exotic,”“primitive ,” or “unknown” (to the West) continues to

this day under the auspices of such organizations as the National Geographic Society. Because treating human societies in the manner of the nineteenth- to mid-twentieth-

century adventurers is no longer appropriate, attention has refocused on wildlife and the challenges of “nature”f the lifecycle of a pride of lions on the Serengeti, the perils of scaling Mt. Everest, or the challenge of raising unbroken dinnerware from the TiLanic.The impulse remains the same, while vastly " improved technology allows for better “on-the-scene” participation by distant viewers.

fig 5.1. The view one clay in 2001 frorn an always-broadcasting Arn5terdarn webcam. The image changes every 50 seconds. Take a look yourself at www.><54a|I.nI/ ~sh5/webcarnhtml. Of course, there are hundreds of other webcams to choose from.

Henry Morgan Stanley (1841-1904): English travel writer and explorer who conducted a highly publicized (and successful) search through Central Africa in 1870-71 to find fellow English explorer David Livingstone (181 3-73).

taboos than on television. Sex and nakedness are big

attractions. But almost anything will do.The prototype of this genre of entertainment was the months' long broadcast of the ongoing lives of the Loud family of southern California in 1971 . People asked then, and the question remains salient, The news programs about the Shemenski rescue had a does the presence of the camera change behavior or convert lot in common with the Stanley-Livingstone story and someone 's home from a “real-life” venue into a “theatre"? It is with entertainment programs. The Shemenski story suited a sociological application of Heisenberg’s indeterminacy our times: condensed, episodic, and visual. News came

via airplane and satellite, rather than through trekking and hand-delivered manuscripts.There was the “human interest”

side of things, controlled reports of dangers and progress, a growing tension about the outcome, and a happy ending. Survivor had all this plus the thrill of a sports-like elimination contest. Not “real sports,” but rather more like

professional wrestling with its over-stuffed heroes and villains cheered and jeered by deliriously excited fans. Over time, Survivor viewers picked their favorites to love, pity, admire, and hate. ls the contest real or rigged? We know that the outcome ofa stage drama is settled before the curtain rises. The public expects sports to be untampered with - although the cricket scandal of 2001 and the ongoing mess around steroid-use throw into doubt the legitimacy of all sports.

principle where the observation affects the outcome. The Louds and Survivor are managed by the networks. But the little guy is in on the action too. Starting in the mid-19905 there arose a profusion of internet sites such as “]enniCam” (see figure 5.2). Although ]enni says she is not an actress or entertainer, on her site she advertises the ]enniShow, a bi-

weekly video webcast hosted by jenni herself (see Ringley box). Viewers can send emails to ]enni, who reads them during the show. Many of these “real-life” sites are “subscriber

only”f you have to pay to watch - converting “just living life” into a business. Sometimes others are paid to watch us, even if we do not Want to be watched, using surveillance cameras installed by corporations and police _ The panopticon was first a means for guards to surveil prisons. Does the ubiquity of the looking eye make the world into one vast

prison (as Hamlet believed Denmark to be)? Viewing the



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(19344 Marxist critic a.nd'proi'essor

The relationship between science and technology is

of Coniparative Literature at'Dixl:e Hxmiversity. Author of Die Poimcal Unc6r}sciot1Sf(l§Sl)ʻf:an€1 Postmodernism or tive Cufturallogic 0 Kate

reversed. [_ . .] Research funds are allocated by States, corporations, and nationalized companies in accordance

ec¢pfa=1f§~m{;99t)_ ' l _ 1 1 - i 5 »

with this logic of power growth. Research sectors that are unable to argue that they contribute even indirectly to the

optimization of the system's performance are abandoned


by the flow of capital and doomed to senescence. The

criterion of performance is explicitly invoked by the authorities to justify their refusal to subsidize certain

research centers.

What is Postmodernism ? 1984, The Postmodern Condition, 47

So, in postmodern culture, “culture” has become a

product in its own right; the market has become a substitute for itself and fully as much a commodity as any of the items it includes within itself: modernism

Linda Hutcheon (1947- ): Canadian literary critic, cultural theorist, and professor of English at the Llniversity of Toronto. Author of Narcissistic Narrative (1980), A Tbeog' gfParocly (1985),

A Poetics ¢j`Postmodemism (1988). _ I _

was still minimally and intentionally the critique of the commodity and the effort to make it transcend itself. Postmodernism is the consumption of sheer commodification as a process. [_ _ _] Culturally, the precondition [of postmodernism] is to be found [_ _ .] in the enormous

Linda Hutcheon

social and psychological transformations of the 1960s.

[. . _ The] economic preparation of postmodernism or

late capitalism began in the 1950s, after the wartime

Postmodern Human-made Truths

shortages of consumer goods and spare parts had been made up, and new products and new technologies (not

Postmodern art similarly asserts and then deliberately

least those of the media) could be pioneered. On the other

undermines such principles as value, order, meaning,

hand, the psychic habitus of the new age demands the

control, and identity that have been the basic premises of

absolute break, strengthened by a generational rupture,

bourgeois liberalism. Those humanistic principles are still operative in our culture, but for many they are no longer

achieved more properly in the 19605. E. . .1 As the word itself suggests, this break is most often related to notions of the waning or extinction of the hundred-year-old modern movement (or to its ideological or aesthetic repudiation). Thus abstract expressionism in painting, existentialism in philosophy, the final forms of representation in the novel, the films of the great auteurs, or the modernist school of poetry [_ _ .] all are

seen as eternal and unchallengeable. The contradictions

of both postmodern theory and practice are positioned within the system and yet work to allow its premises to ‘3

be seen as fictions or as ideological structures. This does

not necessarily destroy their “truth" value, but it does define the conditions of that “truth.” Such a process reveals rather than conceals the tracks of the signifying

now seen as the final, extraordinary flowering of a high-

systems that constitute our world - that is, systems

modernist impulse which is spent and exhausted with

constructed by us in answer to our needs. However


important the systems are, they are not natural, given, or

[_ _ . The] fundamental feature of [_ _ .] post-

universal. The very limitations imposed by the postmodern view are also perhaps ways of opening new

mode r ni s m [i s ] the e ffa c e me nt E . _ . ] of the ol de r

doors: perhaps now we can better study the interrelations

(essentially high-modernist) frontier between high

of social, aesthetic, philosophical, and ideological

culture and so-called mass or commercial culture, and

constructs. In order to do so, postmodernist critique must acknowledge its own position as an ideological one.

the emergence of new kinds of texts infused with the

forms, categories, and contents of that very culture industry so passionately denounced by all the ideologues

1988, A Poetics of Postmodernism, 13

of the moder n [ _ _ .] .



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Manmade artifacts can always be imitated by man.

production” are owned and controlled by a very few - a true corporate-military- government complex. It is not easy to tell whether experimental artists are resisting or aiding the corporations. Some of the most creative performance artists are pushing the conflation further, experimenting with “Cyborg” bodies (amalgams of the biological, the mechanical, and the digital). I will discuss some of these experiments at

Replicas were made by pupils in practice of their craft,

the end of this chapter.

Walter B€|"|jE`:ll'l'lll'l Authenticity, Presence, Aura In principle, a work of art has always been reproducible.

by masters for diffusing their works, and finally, by

third parties in the pursuit of gain. Mechanical repro-


duction of a work of art, however, represents something new. [_ _ .]

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its

What Benjamin was leaning toward, but what he did not possess the theoretical tools to explore, was “simulation” With simulation representation ends, and reproduction (cloning, digital and biological) takes over. ]ean Baudrillard foresaw this in the early 1980s (see Baudrillard box I). Simulation as the concept continues to evolve in the twentyfirst century is closely related to “reality” television and

existence. This includes the changes which it may have

suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. [_ _ .1 The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is

Jean Baudrillard

transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its

substantive duration to its testimony to the history which

it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests

The Phases of Imaging

on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction E. . .1. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of

These are the successive phases of the image:

the object.

- it is the reflection of a basic reality

One might subsume the eliminated element in the term “aura” and go on to say: that which withers in the age

- it masks and perverts a basic reality

of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of

- it bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its

- it masks the absence ofa basic reality

own pure simulacrum.

art. This is a symptomatic process whose significance

points beyond the realm of art. One might generalize by

In the first case, the image is a goodappearance -the

saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the

representation is of the order of sacrament. In the

reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of

second, it is an evi/ appearance - of the order of a spell. In the third, it p/ays at being an appearance -it is of the order of sorcery. In the fourth, it is no longer in the order

copies for a unique existence. 1969 [1936] I//uminations, 218, 220-1

of appearance at all, but of simulation.

1983, Simulations, 11-12

whatever comes after. But these classic distinctions between

“nature” and “art” are getting more difficult to make. It is not only changes in philosophical theories that blur the boundaries. “Integration” is a powerful movement at the highest levels of centralized power. Big business long ago moved in to control the means of information production.

Cn the margins dissident individuals can put up what they want on their own websites. But the “means of digital

internet sites. A simulation is neither a pretense nor an

imitation. It is a replication of _ _ _ itself as another. That makes simulations perfect performatives. A cloned sheep or a U-2 song distributed digitally over the internet is not a “copy” but an “original” in a theoretically infinite series. Or it is a “copy” in a theoretically infinite series. There is no difference




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Hundreds of people [_ . .1 were crushed by the news of her death. “So many people reached out to this beautiful girl who was so positive in the face of adversity,” said Saundra Mitchell, a screenwriter in Indianapolis. But Ms. Mitchell was one of the first to cast doubt on what turned out to be an intricately detailed fabrication. A few

days after the death announcement, Debbie Swenson, a 40-year-old homemaker, confessed to having invented the life and death of Kaycee. Ms. Swenson, who has two teenage children and lives in Peabody, Kan., a small town about 50 miles northeast of Wichita, had posed as l mother. [. . .1

Ms. Swensonʼs fabrication was constructed so expertly and made so emotionally compelling that even when faced with

evidence that it was not true, many people who were sophisticated Internet veterans set aside their skepticism and continued to believe it. Others put their online expertise to work to ferret out the truth about the fictitious Kaycee. E. . .1 Ms. Swenson said that she believed the Kaycee character had been more helpful than harmful. “A lot of people have problems,” she said. “I know I helped a lot of people in a lot of different ways." She could be right. So compelling was Ms. Swenson’s creation that powerful online connections were made among those who believed in the Kaycee persona and among those who pulled it apart.

[John Halcyon] Styn, whose gifts to the fictitious Kaycee had included a care package filled with hats to cover her head during periods of baldness, said that he refused to become cynical in the incident's unsettling wake. [_ . .1 “The fact that she wasn’t really there doesn't mean that thousands of people weren’t able to trust and give love to a stranger. The fact that the Internet is a medium where people can feel those things is encouraging.”

2001, "A Beautiful Life, an Early Death, a Fraud Exposed,” 1-2, 5

.lean Baudrillard Feigning To Have What One Doesnʼt To dissimulate is to pretend not to have what one has. To simulate is to feign to have what one hasn’t. One implies a

presence, the other an absence. But the matter is more complicated, since to simulate is not simply to feign: "Someone who feigns an illness can simply go to bed and make believe he is ill. Someone who simulates an illness produces in himself some of the symptoms" (Littre). Thus, felgning or dissimulating leaves the reality principle intact: the difference is

always clear, it is only masked; whereas simulation threatens the difference between the “true” and “false/’ “real” and “imaginary.” Since the simulator produces “true” symptoms, is he ill or not? He cannot be treated objectively either as ill, or as not ill.

1983, Simulations, 5

This process can be outlined as: real life -> pretending -> acting on stage -> simulating -> real life

On the page, the progression moves from left to right, but actually the system loops back into itself with the extreme right, “real life ,” equal to the extreme left, “real life.” The shaman - or any performer similarly self-convinced f performs with such intensity and conviction that she transcends the pretense that first characterizes her performance. One pretends, then acts, then simulates, then arrives back at real life. A kind of experiential mobius

strip is performed. Is this second real life “real life” and not real life? How can one tell?This can be a legal-ethical question as much as a philosophical one, as can be seen in a child pornography case argued before the US Supreme Court in 2001 (see Liptak box). These individualized simulations are not the only kind. Other simulations include elaborately designed entertainment environments such as Disney World with its



Adam Liptak Is Simulated Sex Too Real? In the science-fiction thriller The Matrix, Keanu Reeves confronts a future in which computer-generated virtual reality is not only indistinguishable from ordinary experience but also has powerful real-world consequences. Last Monday

[22 January 20013, the Supreme Court announced that it would follow lVlr. Reeves into the virtual realm by agreeing to hear a case concerning whether uncannily realistic digital simulations of children involved in sexual activity should have real-world consequences of up to 30 years in prison. The federal law in question criminalizes the creation or possession of fake but sometimes startlingly exact images of

children in sexual settings. The Supreme Court will decide whether the law is constitutional and whether, as the American Civil Liberties Union put it in a friend-of-the-court brief, “there is a real difference between touching children sexually and touching computer keys to create images."

The question is a variation on one that has often been before the courts in the digital era: do perfect replicas require different rules? So far, in contexts like the controversy over Napster and the banning of computer code allowing decryp~ tion of DVDʼs, the courts have tended to answer yes. In other words, the better the simulation, the more likely it is to be illegal. L. _ .]

Neither the courts nor the experts foresaw the quality of modern digital simulations and the E358 with which they can be distributed over the World Wide Web. These developments have caused courts to shut down file-sharing services like Napster and to forbid Internet publications from even linking to Web sites containing code allowing DV Dʼs to be copied. These technical advances also caused Congress to ban simulated child pornography, based on the indirect real-world

consequences of the simulations. The sponsors of the 19% law said real children are hurt by fake pornography because simulated images may be used to entice real children into participating in sexual activity. They also argued that simulated

images may be traded for real ones, thereby driving the market for child pornography generally, and that virtual pornography whets the sexual appetites of pedophiles. [_ _ .] Scholars question whether the justifications offered for the law are real or a pretext for suppressing troubling speech.

“The fundamental problem,” said Prof. Eric ll/l. Freedman, a First Amendment specialist at Hofstra Law School, “is that the statute goes beyond regulating the use of real children in the production of pornography and attempts to suppress the idea of juvenile sexuality. lt proceeds on the premise that the underlying idea is so pathological that it should be banned from public discourse.”

Joan E. Bertin, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, agreed. It is implicit in the law, she said, that: “ʻIf youʼre a viewer, youʼre a doer.' We donʼt subscribe to the notion that by looking at or considering an idea that you necessarily endorse it.” 2001, “When is a Fake Too Real? It's Virtually Uncertain,” 1-2

simulated Mexico, China, Italy, and so on (see figure 5.3 and Baudrillard box 3). However, Disney and like theme parks are not much more than stage or movie sets reconfigured to satisfy consumers. So much so that some of the most popular sites are simulations ofmovie sets, or even working movie sets, as at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Here entrepreneurs designed a simulating machine that simulates a simulating machine. But who's fooled? At a somewhat more sophisticated level of simulation are restored villages such as Colonial Williamsburg or Plimoth Plantation that not only claim to look like what the sites once “really were,” but employ trained “interpreters” to replicate

historical persons who once lived there (see figure 5 4) Here the purpose is to trade on a national nostalgia in the garb of education. But only children are fooled - and even they not for long. Where twenty-first century simulations are most

effective is at the level of corporate operations, military war games, and scientific experiments. Here simulations are replacing actual events because simulations arc cheaper and more reliable than real life, while either yielding reliable information about real life or having known effects on real

life. Of course, in movies simulated settings, effects, and characters are commonplace. Some of these, as in video



Hg 5.5. Disneyworld in Florida features very sanitized, and commercialized, versions of Mexico, China, italy, and other nations. The structures are mostly facades, suitable for photographing, leading to interiors that contain restaurants and stores.












Jean B3_Ud|'lll3_|'Cl







__ 4,

Disney/and is Simulated Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulation. To begin with it is a play of illusions

and phantasms: Pirates, the Frontier, Future World, etc. This imaginary world is supposed to be what makes

the operation successful. But what draws the crowds is undoubtedly much more the social microcosm, the miniaturized and religious reveling in real America, in its delights and drawbacks. II. _ .1

The objective profile of America, then, may be traced throughout Disneyland, even down to the morphology

of individuals and the crowd. All its values are exalted

here, in miniature and comic strip form. Embalmed and pacified_ [_ _ .1 Disneyland is there to conceal the fact

Hg 5.4. A view of Plimoth Plantation, where "it is always 1627" (as the P|antationʼs website announces), Plimoth is a reconstruction of the Pilgrim settlement in Massachusetts. A reconstruction rather than restoration because none of the original structures survive and the Plantation is near but not exactly at the spot where the Pilgrims lived in the 17th century. Photograph from the 19805 by Richard Schechner.

that it is the “real” country, all of the “real” America, which is Disneyland [_ . .]. Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is

real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question

of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of

concealing the fact that the real is no longer real [_ _ .].

1983, Simulations, 23-25

games, announce their unreality; but many present themselves as actual. As in the child pornography Case before the US Supreme Court, it is not possible for a viewer to detect a difference between a “picture of _ _ _ X” and a“picture that is simulated.” In these situations the performative is primary. japan, barred by its post-Second World War constitution

from fielding an army, Wages simulated war instead. In an exercise conducted on Mt. Fuji in 2000, 300 japanese soldiers

engaged 100 invading enemy. Commanders watched the battle over closed-circuit television, monitoring every move



and exchange of fire. The soldiers were actually on the mountain, but everything else f small arms, artillery, mines, and mortars - was controlled by the computer program. “This was one of the most overwhelming exercises of my career,” an officer said. “When you see your soldiers being killed and injured one right after the other, it adds a sense of realism to the drill." The US Army also uses simulations extensively. Hundreds of soldiers in different locations can engage in a tank battle on the same virtual battlefield under very realistic conditions.Tl1c army is also working

with experts from computer science and Hollywood to perfect simulations of emotionally stressful situations in order to train soldiers to dc-al with peace-keeping operations and terrorist threats (see Hafner box 2). If thc simulated

can seem real, thc opposite is also true ~ the real can appear to bc simulated. Many commentators noted that real war - as fought by the US against Iraq in l992, or the bombing of Yugoslavia in I 999 - is like a videogame, with “smart bombs,” missiles launched from distances of hundreds of miles, and

damages “assessed” (scored) by satellite observation.

Katie H aff] e I' Emotional Simulations for the Military AR|NA DEL Rev, Calif. - On a quiet street in a village in the Balkans, an accident suddenly puts an American peacekeeping

force to the test. A Humvee has hit a car, and a child who has been injured inthe collision lies unmoving on the ground. A medic leans over him. The childʼs mother cries out. A crowd of local residents gathers in the background. How they will

react is anyoneʼs guess. A lieutenant arrives at the scene and is confronted by a number of variables. In addition to the chaos

unfolding in the village, a nearby unit is radioing for help. Emotions - not only the lieutenant's own and those of his sergeant, but also those ofthe panicked mother and the restive townspeople - will clearly play a role in any decision he makes.

This seven-minute situation is a simulation, generated on a large computer screen with sophisticated animation, voice synthesis and voice recognition technology. It is the product of about six months of work here by three research groups at the University of Southern California: the Institute for Creative Technologies, largely financed by the Army to promote

collaboration among the military, Hollywood, and computer researchers; the Information Sciences Institute; and the Integrated Media Systems Center. The only human player is the lieutenant. The rest ofthe characters, including the sergeant

who has been conferring with the lieutenant, have been generated by the computer. L. . .1 Such simulations are still experimental. But when they are ready, they will be used at bases around the country to train soldiers and officers alike to make decisions under stress. The University of Southern California exercise illustrates the latest challenge among researchers: to focus on the more unpredictable side of the human psyche, simulating emotions and the

unexpected effects that panic, stress, anxiety and fear can have on actions and decisions when an officer or a soldier is deep in the fog of war. “How does a hand-grenade explosion a few feet away from you motivate you if you’ve just been marching 16 hours in

tremendous heat?" asked Dr. Barry G. Silverman, an engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Of course, video and computer games are the closest most people come to experiencing situations like that. ln fact, Dr. Silverman said one of his students had recently asked him why he even bothered with his research when there are games like “Age of

Empires,” Microsoftʼs popular warfare strategy series. The similarities, Dr. Paul S. Rosenbloom, a computer scientist who is deputy director of the Intelligence Systems Division at the Information Sciences Institute, acknowledged, are obvious.

“You're in an environment and interacting with characters trying to accomplish something,” he said. “The difference is in the underlying technology.” But there are also important distinctions. Simulations like those he works on, he said, are more concerned with trying to

understand how people really react in a variety of circumstances. “lt can react appropriately to you under a wide range of things you might do and essentially intelligently adapt its behavior," he said. “There are no computer games that have

anywhere near that flexibility. There aren’t characters who have a deep understanding of a situation.” l'. _ .J The growing interest among researchers in these kinds of simulations comes with the rise in computer processing power and the growing sophistication of psychological theories. [_ . .] Dr. Silverman said that not only have new theories emerged



on the role of emotions in decision-making, but computer processing has also become fast and inexpensive enough that

computers are able to do the complex calculations necessary to model behavior. “The agents can now think in real time and react and have emotions in real time," he said. But the degree to which emotions can be simulated depends on the type of behavior being modeled. The effect of stress or sleep deprivation, for instance, is better understood than, say, panic, fear or anxiety. [_ . .J

The exercise simulating the Balkans mission is one step toward introducing emotional individuals into a situation so

people can be trained for complex tasks like peacekeeping duties. E. . .] To enhance the realism, the Institute for Creative Technologies, with a $45 million grant from the Army, has built a theatre here with a screen that wraps around roughly

half the room. Three projectors and a sound system make the theater so realistic and directional that it can trick the listener into believing that a soundʼs source is coming from anywhere in the room.

After completing the exercise, a trainee receives an evaluation, said Dr. Bill Swartout, the institute’s director of technology. “Depending on the path you took, a particular tape is played,” he said. Because there are only a few possible paths in this version of the simulation, he said, it is possible to record the evaluations in advance. As the simulation becomes more sophisticated, there will be more choices for the lieutenant, and software will put the story together on the fly. [. . .J

In one project Dr. Silverman is working on, the human player is the leader of a squad guarding a checkpoint at a bridge. All the other participants are simulations. In the exercise, a school bus approaches, filled with women and children. The bus also holds armed terrorists who are planning an attack. “Throughout the ages," Dr. Silverman said, “we have been

taught that emotions are the opposite of rationality and that cold logic is devoid of emotions." But new research shows that most decisions are guided by emotions, he said. “It's ironic, but to build realistic, clever software agents, we are giving them emotions and the capability of emotionally reacting to events and actions.”

Dr. Silverman is optimistic about how quickly the new direction in research will prove effective. “It's definitely coming together,” he said. “We're at the early stage, and there’s a lot more theory than data. It’s very easy to program a theory, but much harder to ground that in data and say this actually duplicates how people behave. But the field is moving rapidly forward.”

But Dr. Richard W. Pew, a principal scientist at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, l\/lass., and an expert on military simulations, is less optimistic: “I'm not sanguine that in the next five years we’ll be there. People are complicated. You never do exactly the same thing twice. Every situation you face is always a little bit different, so trying to build a model that can reflect the importance of that context is where the challenges are.” To make further advances, Dr. Pew said, will require closer cooperation between psychologists and computer scientists. "If we want to be more successful with computer models, we need to go deeper into the psychology of how people perform,” he said. “Because many of the models are ginned up by computer scientists who donʼt know anything about human behavior.” 2001, “Get Hold of Yourself Lieutenant,” The New Yor/<</span> Times, 21 June. From NY Times website.

The most extensive use of simulations is in science.

and number-crunching power of computers f computers

During 1999 and 2000, Science, the journal of the American

that “perform better.” The result is a conjunction of commercial, military, scientific, and academic operations Where the “performance principle” is a concatenation of theatre,

Association for the Advancement of Science, published

138 articles reporting research based on simulations used across the whole range of scientific inquiry from genetics,


earthquake prediction, and lots more. In fact, simulation has become the most important single tool in scientific research,

executives, university officials, military brass, and government bureaucrats. The workers - those crunching data into information, developing new simulations, participating

prediction, and teaching. The rise of simulation is tightly

in experiments and training ~ are professors, soldiers,

joined to the increasing speed, reduced size, visual abilities,

scientists, and a few artists.

Climatology, and molecular biology to astrophysics, medicine,


? " " "



Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913): Swiss linguist, whose posthumously published Coursein General Lincquistia(1 916,Eng.1959)

Postmodernism and poststructuralism are the bases for academic theories of performativity. These are at odds with the uses of performativity in business, science, and the military. The scholars who developed Austin's ideas were vehemently anti-authoritarian.They wanted to use notions of performativity to subvert established authority. But what ’s happened is that the techniques ofperformativity - simulation

lays the foundation of structural linguistics, as well as ofstructuralism more generally,

Roman jakobson (1896-1982): Russian-bom linguist. Author of Fundamentals gflnnguagc(1956),Studies in Verbal An (1971 ),and Main Trends in theScienceofLanguage(1973).

especially- have been eagerly taken up by the most powerful groups in society and used to enhance their power and control over knowledge. At the same time, academics today still use

Claude Lévi-Strauss 0908- ): French anthropologist, a key

notions of perlormativity to subvert authority. Ilow this

figure in the development of structuralism. His works include The Elemenlaq Structures rf Kinship (194-9, Eng. 1969), Structural

contradiction will be resolved is not certain.

Postmodernism and poststructuralism must be under-

Anthropology ( 1 958, Eng. 1963), The Savage Mind( 1962, Eng. 1966), and TheRaw and theCooked (1964,Eng.1969).

stood in relation to each other. Postmodernism is a practice in the visual arts, architecture, and performance art. Poststructuralism, a.k.a. "deconstruction," is the academic

response to postmodernism. Poststructuralism, a discourse in cultural, linguistic, and philosophical circles, began in France in the 1960s both as a revolt against “structuralism” and in sympathy with the radical student movement that culminated in the strikes and insurrections of 1968. Poststructuralism has never totally lost touch with its radical beginnings, though (as we will see) this has also proven to be

Claude Lévi-Strauss The Universal of Structuralism lf, as we believe to be the case, the unconscious activity of the mind consists in imposing forms upon content,

a burden as the rest ofthe world moves on.

and if these forms are fundamentally the same for all

Structuralism, closely associated with the “structural

minds - ancient and modern, primitive and civilized (as

linguistics” of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and

the study of the symbolic function, expressed in

Roman jakobson (1896 -1982), and led in the 1960s and

language, so strikingly indicates) - it is necessary and

1970s by Claude Lévi~Strauss (1908- ), took as its main program the discovery of universal unconscious structures of language, mind, and culture (see Lévi-Strauss and

sufficient to grasp the unconscious structure underlying each institution and each custom, in order to obtain a

principle of interpretation valid for other institutions

Ehrmann boxes). The structuralists often worked by

and other customs, provided of course that the analysis

analyzing cultural practices both “diachronically” (over time) and “synchronically” (as a single structural unit). A

is carried far enough.

1963, Structural Anthropology, 21

favorite device of the structuralists was the use of "binary

opposites” to characterize the dialectical tensions of a social system. The poststructuralists deplored the desire to universalize and the use of binary opposites. Both of these, they believed, reduced complex situations-tn over-simplified models. Furthermore, the poststructuralists felt that

Jacques E l'l'1l"l'lal'll'l

structuralism buttressed the status quo socially, politically, and philosophically. Poststructuralists opposed all notions of universals, originals, or Firsts.To poststructuralists, every act, every idea, is a performative.

What is Structuralism? What is structuralism? Before being a philosophy, as

Poststructuralists regard each phenomenon as part of an

some tend to see it, it is a method of analysis. Even

endless stream of repetitions with no “first voice” of ultimate authority (see Foucault box l). In their insistence on process, poststructuralists are Heraclitean and Nietzschean

as such its many facets and different uses make it a








subject of various interpretations, debate, even polemics. No simple or single definition applies to it except in very general terms. One could say a structure is a combination and relation of formal elements which reveal their logical coherence within given objects of

analysis. Although structuralism can hardly be subsumed in some overall formula, or be given any label which will identify it for public consumption, we can say it is first of all, when applied to the sciences of man, a certain way of studying language problems and the problems of languages.

1966, Introduction to special issue of Ya/e French Studies on Structuralism, 7

f everything is in flux. The flux of experience and history is the battleground for an ongoing power struggle. Who has the authority to speak in the “father’s voice” f except there is no father. ]ust as the Wizard of Oz proves to be an

illusion, a magic show manipulated by an ordinary man, so do the great icons of societal power. (An insight that jean Genet [1910-86] expressed as early as 1956 in The Balcony.) Unstable “iteration” - repetition, but not quite exactly - replaces stable representation. But by the turn of the new millennium, this idea ran smack into the practice of

digital and biological cloning. Thus, on the one hand, postmodern repetition and recombination; on the other, poststructuralist digerance (to be discussed soon). Although their discourse is principally about language and takes the form of essays and books, poststructuralists have a very broad view of what constitutes language. “There is

lVlichel Foucau A Secret Origin, an Already-Said

We must renounce two linked, but opposite themes. The first involves a wish that it should never be possible to assign, in the order of discourse, the lrruption of a real event; that beyond any apparent beginning, there is always a secret origin so secret and so fundamental that it can never be quite grasped in itself. Thus one is led inevitably lj. . .J towards an ever-

receding point that is never itself present in any history; this point is merely its own void; and from that point all beginnings can never be more than recommencements or occultation (in one and the same gesture, this and that). To this theme is

connected another according to which all manifest discourse is secretly based on an ‘already-said'; and that this ‘alreadysaid’ is not merely a phrase that has already been spoken, or a text that has already been written, but a ‘never-said,' an

incorporeal discourse, a voice as silent as a breath, a writing that is merely the hollow of its own mark. It is supposed therefore that everything that is formulated in discourse was already articulated in that semi-silence that precedes it, which continues to run obstinately beneath it, but which it covers and silences. The manifest discourse, therefore, is really no more

than the repressive presence of what it does not say; and this ‘not-said’ is a hollow that undermines from within all that is said. The first theme sees the historical analysis of discourse as the quest for and the repetition of an origin that eludes all

historical determination; the second sees it as the interpretation of ‘hearing’ an ‘already-said' that is at the same time a ‘not-said.’ We must renounce all those themes whose function is to ensure the infinite continuity of discourse and its secret

presence to itself in the interplay of a constantly recurring absence. We must be ready to receive every moment of discourse in its sudden irruption; in that punctuality in which it appears, and in that temporal dispersion that enables it to be repeated, known, forgotten, transformed, utterly erased, and hidden, far from all view, in the dust of books. Discourse must not be referred to the distant presence of the origin, but treated as and when it occurs. 1972, The Archeo/ogy of Know/edge, 25

jean Genet (1910-86): French playwright and novelist whose works include The Maids (1948, Eng. 1954), Ourllady of Flowers (1948, eng. 1949), The mfgsjamaz (1949, Eng, 1959), The Balcony (1956, Eng. 1958), and The B1ac1es(1958, Eng. l960).

nothing outside the text,” Derrida wrote. But the “text” in Derridaʼs theory is all of human culture. “Writing,” as Derrida

has it, comprises an all-inclusive array of cultural expressions and social practices. By “Writing” Derrida means more than graphic inscription and literature. He means the entire system 125


of “inscribed” power: laws, rituals, traditions, politics, economic relations, science, the military, and the arts (See

writing produced by the authorities is not “transparent” ~ a windowpane through which one secs the “true," the “real ,” or

Derrida box 2). Derrida views cultures as constructed sets

the “natural_"All writing enacts agendas of power. Writing doesn`t serve power, but the other way around; who writes performs authority. Yet all authority, whatever its proclamation of eternity and universality, is temporaryz “inalienable rights, "" the I ,000-year R<:ich,"“a|l roads lead to Rome” no “writing” is either first or linal.

of relations, historically founded and always contested Inscribed power performs its privileges by means of established authorities - police, courts, the military, priesthood, scientists, teachers, and critics. lt’s no accident

that the word “authority” includes the word “author." The

Jacques D¤l'l’lCla “Writing” and “Deconstruction” If we take the notion of writing in its currently accepted sense - one which should not - and that is essential- be considered

innocent, primitive, or natural, it can only be seen as a means ofcommunication [_ _ __l extending enormously, if not infinitely, the domain of oral or gestural communication. [_ _ .l

Once men are already inthe state of “communicating their thoughts," and of doing it by means of sounds [_ _ _`l, the birth

and progress of writing will follow a line that is direct, simple, and continuous. [_ _ _ll

The representational character of the written communication - writing as picture, reproduction, imitation of its content -will be the invariant trait of all progress to come. [_ _ .J Representation, of course, will become more complex, will develop supplementary ramifications and degrees [_ _ _l.

A written sign is proffered in the absence of the receiver. How to style this absence? [_ _ _Tlhis distance, divergence, delay, this deferral [différance] must be capable of being carried to a certain absoluteness of absence if the structure of writing, assuming that writing exists, is to constitute itself. [_ _ _] My communication must be repeatable - iterable -in the

absolute absence of the receiver [_ _ .]_ Such iterability - (iteig again, probably comes from itara, other in Sanskrit, and everything that follows can be read as the working out of the logic that ties repetition to alterity) structures the mark of writing itself, no matter what particular type of writing is involved L_ _ _]. A writing that is not structurally readable -

iterable - beyond the death of the addressee would not be writing. [_ _ _'l The possibility of repeating and thus of identifying the marks is implicit in every code, making it into a network that is communicable, transmittable, decipherable, iterable for a third, and hence for every possible user in general. To be what it

is, all writing must, therefore, be capable of functioning in the radical absence of every empirically determined receiver in general. And this absence is not a continuous modification of presence, it is a rupture in presence. [_ _ _i What holds for the receiver holds also, for the same reason, for the sender or producer. To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort

of machine which is productive in turn, and which my future disappearance will not, in principle, hinder in its functioning, offering things and itself to be read and to be rewritten. [_ _ _l [T]he traits that can be recognized in the classical, narrowly defined concept of writing are generalizable. They are valid not only for all orders of “signs” and for all languages in general but moreover, beyond semio-linguistic communication, for the entire field of what philosophy would call experience, even the experience of being: the above-mentioned "presence/ʼ [_ _ _]

Every sign, linguistic or nonlinguistic, spoken or written (in the current sense of this opposition), in small or large units, can be cited, put between quotation marks; in so doing it can break with every given context, engendering an infinity of new

contexts in a manner which is absolutely illimitable. This does not imply that the mark is valid outside of a context, but on the contrary that there are only contexts without any center or absolute anchoring. [_ _ ..l

We are witnessing not an end of writing that would restore [_ _ .J a transparency or an immediacy to social relations; but

rather the increasingly powerful historical expansion of a general writing, of which the system of speech, consciousness, meaning, presence, truth, etc., would be only an effect, and should be analyzed as such. [_ _ .J



Deconstruction cannot be restricted or immediately pass to a neutralization: it must, through a double gesture, a double

science, a double writing » put into practice a reversal of the classical opposition anda general displacement of the system. L . .] Deconstruction does not consist in moving from one concept to another, but in reversing and displacing a conceptual order as well as the nonconceptual order with which it is articulated. 1988, Limited Inc., 3, 5, 7-fa, 12, 21

That is because behind every Writing are other writings.

New writing tries to erase or co-opt what came before, but is never wholly successful. To Derrida, cultures are palimpsests of official and counter-hegemonic graffiti. Every writing is a power struggle (see Derrida box 3). Even simple binaries such as “day/night,” “white/black," “man/ woman” inscribe power. In Western languages, by reading the term on the left first we perform its authority over the term on the right. To reverse terms is to perform a new power relation: “black/white” is different than “white/black.” From this perspective, history is not a story of “what happened” but an ongoing struggle to “write," or claim

Jacques Derrida Writing and Power Never Work Separately Fostering the belief that writing fosters power (one can,

in general, and one can write if occasioned to), that it can ally itself to power, can prolong it by complementing

it, or can serve it, the question suggests that writing can come [arriver] to power or power to writing. It excludes in advance the identification of writing as

power or the recognition of power from the onset of

ownership, over historical narratives.Yet every narrative, no

writing. It auxiliarizes and hence aims to conceal the fact that writing and power never work separately,

matter how elegant or seemingly total, is full of holes, what Derrida calls “aporia” - open spaces, absences, and contradictions, Nothing can be totally erased. These aporias leak various pasts and alternatives into the present order

however complex the laws, the system, or the links of their collusion may be. E. _ .J

Writing does not come to power. It is there

of things.

beforehand, it partakes of and is made of it. E. . .J Hence, struggles for powers set various writings up against ;

Palimpsest: A document or art work that has been repeatedly

one another II/es luttes pour les pouvoirs opposent des

written or drawn on, then partly erased, dren written or drawn on again, so that the previous writings leave a still visible, trace on the writing surface. Thus a palimpsest contains and expresses its own history of being inscribed on. _

‘ écrituresll.

1998 [1979], from Scribble (writing-power), in The Derrida Reader, 50

Hegemonic: Exerting dominance or control, usually by or on behalfof the state, religious body, colporation, or other established

In order to show the unstable, performative quality


The authorities - “those who author” » attempt to make

the present take on the appearance of being the outcome of an inevitable process (fate, destiny, historical necessity). But this smooth continuity f a knowable past that determines a stable present leading to an inevitable future f is a fiction. The past is full of holes; the present is provisional, the future not known. All historical narratives are haunted by what/ who is erased, threatened by what/ who demands representation. The struggle to write history, to represent events, is an ongoing performative process.

of Writing, Derrida coined the word dijfirance (French), meaning “difference” + “deferral” ~ otherness plus a lack of fixed or decided meaning. Because writing is always contested, a system of erasing as well as composing, meaning cannot “be” once-and-for-all. Meaning is always performed: always in rehearsal, its finality forever deferred, its actuality only provisional, played out in specific circumstances. This “playing out” is related to Nietzsche’s “will-to-power” (see chapter 4) _ As play acts, performatives are not “true” or “false,” “right” or “wrong” They happen. Furthermore, writing in the poststructuralist sense consists of “iterations” - quotations,

repetitions, and citations. Derrida emphasizes that language


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gender, cultural, postcolonial, race, queer, and performance. written (in the Derridean sense) . As a consequence, the term What unites this diverse and even sometimes self- “performative” now includes everything from doable acts of contradictory collection is both an identification with the the body, to imaging of all kinds, and Writing as such. subaltern, the marginalized, and the discriminated against and a desire to sabotage, if not directly overthrow, the existing M ic h e I F O U C a U | -t order of things.



Threshold, Rupture, Break, Mutation, Transformation

Judith Butler 0956- ): American philosopher and queer theorist whose work has concentrated on developing a theory of gender performativity. Her books include Gender Trouble 09909, Bodies that

And the great problem E. . .] is not how continuities are

Maw (1993), and amiable spee¢I1(1997)_. ] i _ -

established, how a single pattern is formed and preserved, how for so many different, successive minds there is a single horizon, what mode of action and what

The Frankfurt School of social science and cultural studies

substructure is implied bythe interplay of transmissions,

emerged in Germany during the 19205 and 19303. Its members included Theodor Adorno (1903-69), Max Horkheimer-

resumptions, disappearances, and repetitions, how the origin may extend its sway well beyond itself to that

(1895-1973), Herbert Msrcuse (l898»-1979), Walter

Benjamin (1892-1940), and, later, jiirgen Habermas (l929Despite its name, the Frankfurt School was neither a school nor limited to Frankfurt. The term is used to designate a group of cultural critics who applied Marxist thought to the arts and popular culture. With the rise ofthe Nazis, many adherents of the Frankfurt School

conclusion that is never given -the problem is no longer

emigrated to England and the United States. Their ideas deeply

emergence of a whole field of questions, some of which

one of tradition, of tracing a line, but one of division, of limits; it isfno longer one of lasting foundations, but one of transformations that serve as new foundations, the rebuilding of foundations. What one is seeing, then, is the

influenced the radical social movements ofthe l96Os,and beyond.

are already familiar, by which this new form of history

is trying to develop its own theory: how is one to specify the different concepts that enable us to conceive of

Subaltern: Literally, subordinate, of low rank. Often used to

discontinuity (threshold, rupture, break, mutation,

indicate the oppressed or marginalized status of persons or groups in the



transformatiom? By what criteria is one to isolate the unities with which one is dealing; what is ascience, what


is an osuvre ljworki? What is a theory? What is a

concept? What is a text? How is one to diversify the

The core operation of poststructuralism is “decentering,” an attack on every kind of hegemony, authority, and fixed system f philosophical, sexual, political, artistic, economic,

levels at which one may place oneself, each of which possesses its own divisions and form of analysis? [_ . .J In short, the history of thought, of knowledge, of

artistic. Poststructuralists subvert the First Performative of

philosophy, of literature seems to be seeking, and

Western and Islamic cultures, God's Utterances in Genesis,

discovering, more and more discontinuities [_ _ .1

“God said _ _ . and there wasl” (Derrida, though French, grew up lewish in Arab Algeria. His early cultural experiences are Semitic, European, and colonial.) Poststructuralists also undercut Aristotle’s notion of a First Cause. On these

1972, The Archeo/ogy of Know/edge, 5-6

originary Spoken Presences, Derrida pours acidic puns and

ironies. Derrida’s attacks are consonant with Foucault’s renunciation of the “secret origin” and the “already-said.” Foucault Wanted to undermine the idea that history proceeded as a continuous stream of causal events. He proposed

instead seeking the “ruptures” and “transformations” that continually throw up “new foundations” (see Foucault box 2).The poststructuralists challenge not so-called facts, but how knowledge itself is manufactured, performed, and

Problems with Poststructuralism Despite its highly developed political consciousness and its analysis of, and sympathy with, the plight of the marginalized and disempowered, poststructuralism is not a mass movement with a direct impact on the vast majority of

people. Poststructuralists are mostly sequestered in the ivory



tower, the “tenured radical" phenomenon. The authorities both within academia and outside it don `t worry much about poststructuralists disrupting the status quo. In fact, an ironclad status quo has developed within poststructuralism. Ironically, poststructuralism is ruled bythe works of (mostly dead) authors. The relatively few writings and ideas that constitute the poststructuralist canon are continually recycled inside a closed hermeneutical system. The causes of this situation are not difhcult to locate.

Once the “disturbances” ofthe 19605 were snuffed out,

many defeated radicals took refuge in academia, where they won in theory what was not accomplished in the streets. Addressing other poststructuralists and their students, poststructuralist writing grew complex and arcane, cleaving a bigger and bigger space between the movement and the larger public. Even as the range of subjects studied expanded

revised and expanded?What about the street demonstrations against the World Trade Organization? Or AIDS walks and the many other manifestations of minoritarian values and desires? Community-based performance gives voice to those who were not previously heard. Much of this can be credited to the long-term impact of poststructuralism. But be careful about confusing “tolerance” and “good management” with actual change. In the United States, at least, the diversity of behavior and opinion has not yet been tested against a serious economic recession or depression. Not to mention large-scale war. It`s easy to be “generous” when times are good. It takes hard times to bring out the need for scapegoatsffime will tell.

Constructions of Gender

including all aspects of popular culture » direct contact

with the people decreased. Upon graduation, most students left poststructuralism behind, The few who continued to hold the torch became young professors, What had started as an effort to change society ended as an academic “tradition” dependent on the aforementioned canon of anti-canonical authors.

Neither the corporations, government, nor university officials messed with what was happening. Why bother? Unlike the disruptions of the 1960s, the new radicals kept their activities confined to “discourse” ~ writings, seminars, petitions, art works, well-regulated protests, and so on.These were all cultural products that made the universities appear

If history is an open project, and social reality the interplay of conflicting performatives, how does this affect circumstances thought to be fixed biologically or by unshakable traditions, gender and race, for example? ls a person “woman” or “man,” “of color" or "white" because genetics says so or because of social arrangements? This is not a question of how people are treated or how much power they have. A revolution, or other engine of change, could result in women or people of color taking power without shaking the supposedly inherent differences between the sexes and

the races.The “performative inquiry" includes but also seeks

beyond changes wrought by social action.The perlormative inquiry asks, what constitutes individual identity and social reality; are these constructed or given; and if constructed, out of what?The questions are begged, of course: once one deems gender and race (plus all other social realities) “percould control any radical impulses that might arise. At the formative,” the answer is that these consist not of naturally level of governance, power was increasingly centralized determined operations but of something built and enforced in deans, presidents, and boards of trustees. The universities by means of “performance” in the senses I used to describe public as well as private corporatized bigtime in that word in chapter 2. Even “nature” is not natural, or prior, management style. The whole relation to “campus radicals" but a humanly constructed concept designed (consciously or took on a quality of play - performative play. Absorbed into unconsciously) to accomplish human ends. This argument academia with its own strict rules of tenure, promotion, could be, and has been, applied to many areas of human and administrative control, the revolution in thinking and activity. Here I will explore it as it pertains to gender and race. society envisioned by the poststructuralists was largely Iudith Butler develops the assertion of French existential writer Simone de Beauvoir (1908 86) that “One is not reduced to and transformed into game playing. Yet I wonder how much ofthe poststructuralist program born, but, rather, becomes a woman" (sec Butler box l).That has been accomplished. Isn't there much more acceptance of is, one's biological sex (“lemale” or "male") is raw material to diversity in European and North American cultures? Haven't be shaped through practice into the socially constructed women, people of color, and jews gotten further in these performance that is gender (“woman" or “man”). Of course, societies than ever before? Aren’t unpopular opinions heard these binaries are much too simple, but for the moment let more often? Haven’t school Curriculums been thoroughly us stick with them. Each individual from an early age learns “liberal” and open to the widest diversity of opinion. An increasingly totalizing global system could easily tolerate or even exult in displaying the products of this liberalism. In fact, the more liberal the academic system was, the better it



to perform gender-specific vocal inflections, facial displays, gestures, walks, and erotic behavior as Well as how to select,

culture -indicating strongly that gender is constructed (See Acting the part of a woman box). To perform these

modify, and use scents, body shapes and adornments, “successfully” give a person a secure place Within a given social clothing, and all other gender markings of a given society. world.To refuse to perform one ’s assigned gender is to rebel These differ widely from period to period and culture to against _ . . “nature .” Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86): French feminist, existentialist philosopher, and novelist. Her best-known non-fiction teict is The Second Sex (1949, Eng. 195 3), which called for an end to the myth of “the eternal feminine.” Other works include The Mandarins (1954, Eng. 1960) and Force cfCircumstance (1963, Eng. 1965).

Judith B ut I e r Gender is Performative E. _ .TJhe body isa historical situation, as Beauvoir has claimed, and is a manner of doing, dramatizing, and reproducing a historical situation. E. _ .J

The act that gender is, the act that embodied agents are inasmuch as they dramatically and actively embody and, indeed, wear certain cultural significations, is clearly not one’s act alone. Surely, there are nuanced and individual ways of doing

one’s gender, but that one does it, and that one does it in accord with certain sanctions and proscriptions, is clearly not a fully individual matter. [_ _ .J The act that one does, the act that one performs, is, in a sense, an act that has been going on before one arrived on the scenef#Hence, gender is an act which has been rehearsed, much as a script survives the particular '§&5Fs'f'vvI%'malfe"Lise'iofEvbiifvvhich requiresiindividual actors inlorder toibe actualized and reproduced as reality once again. E. . .J

' _Qender reality is performative, which means, quite simply, that it is real only to the extent that it is performed. E. . .J If gender attributes E. . .J are not expressive but performative, then these attributes effectively constitute the identity they are said to express or reveal. The distinction between expression and performativeness is quite crucial, for if gender attributes

*and acts, the various ways a body éiiéivé or producesitsucultural signification, arenperformative, then there is no preexisting identity by which an act or attribute might be measured; there would be no true or false, real or distorted acts of gender, and

the postulation of a true gender identity would be revealed as a regulatory fiction. That_gender reality is created through

isustained social performances means that the very notions of an essential sex, a trueror abiding masculinity or femininity,

are also constituted as part of the strategy by which the performative aspect of gender is cohcealed. E. . .J Gender reality is performative, which means, quite simply, that it is real only to the extent that it is performed.

1988, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution," 521, 524-28

Acting the Part of a Woman 1860, Anonymous

Some ladies walk so as to turn up their dresses behind, and I have seen a well-dressed woman made to look very awkward by elevating her shoulders slightly and pushing her elbows too far behind her. Some hold their hands up to the waist, and

press their arms against themselves as tightly as if they were glued there. Others swing them backward and forward as a

businessman walking along the street. Too short steps detract from dignity very much, forming a mincing pace; too long steps are masculine.

1860, Comp/ete Ru/es of Etiquette and Usages of Society, 3-4



2001, Cara Birnbaum in Cosmopolitan How do you work everything from tone of voice to body language to dazzle anyone instantly -from a hot stud to a cold-asice job interviewer? [_ . _.l lt's crucial that your nonverbal cues, including gestures and posture, work overtime to put you in the best possible light. [_ . .l To score some guy candy: Subtly tilt your head and pivot your body whenever he does. lf he

pauses to loosen his tie, stop for a second to moisten your lips. Itʼs all about showing him youʼre enchanted enough to be tracking his every move. [_ _ .1 Start by adjusting your voice so that it matches his energy level. If his tones are enthusiastic, enthuse back. If he sounds mellow, you should too. It will only take a few minutes for a man to make up his mind that youʼre just like him. Once youʼve established that, you can be yourself. June, 2001, “How to Wow Anyone you Meet," 148-49

As Butler points out, there are “nuanced” and “individual

cation of notions drawn from poststructuralism's theory ways” of playing one's gender, but whatever these are, a of performatives. Butler argues that gender as performed person performs her or his gender in accordance with already in contemporary Western societies enacts a normative inscribed performatives. Butler very specifically compares heterosexuality that is a major tool lor enforcing a patriarchal, éefdexj _roles to rehearsed theatrical' performances that phallocentric social order (see Butler box 2).Thus Butler follow known scripts which survive the particular actors politicizes non-heterosexual (queer, gay, lesbian, drag, etc.) of the moment. In this Butler is applying the “all the lojd§__ sexuality and positions these behaviors in opposition to the pa stage” metaphor enunciated by Shakespeare and explored hegemonic male-dominated/defined social order. ln odaer in our own time by Erving Goilrnan and his many followers. words, tcLl3ecorge gay is to enact a radical politics along the Where Butler makes her own contribution is in her appli- order oi`“the personal is the political.” 1 . . .


“ "





Judith B utler i

Compulsory Heterosexuality To guarantee the reproduction of a given culture, various requirements, well established in the anthropological literature

of kinship, have instated sexual reproduction within the confines of a heterosexually-based system of marriage which requires the reproduction of human beings in certain gendered modes which, in effect, guarantee the eventual reproduction of that kinship system. As Foucault and others have pointed out, the association of a natural sex with a discrete gender and with an ostensibly natural “attraction” to the opposing sex/gender is an unnatural conjunction of cultural constructs in the

service of reproductive interests. Feminist cultural anthropology and kinship studies have shown how cultures are governed by conventions that not only regulate and guarantee the production, exchange, and consumption of material goods, but also reproduce the bonds of kinship itself, which require taboos and a punitive regulation of reproduction to effect that end. [_ _ .J My point is simply that one way in which this system of compulsory heterosexuality is reproduced and concealed is through the cultivation of bodies into discrete sexes with “natural" appearances and “natural" heterosexual dispositions. [_ _ .l The contention that sex, gender, and heterosexuality are historical productions which become conjoined and reified as natural over time has received a good deal of critical attention not only from Michel Foucault, but Monique Wittig, gay historians, and various cultural anthropologists and social psychologists in recent years. [. . .J

The transformation of social relations becomes a matter, then, of transforming hegemonic social conditions rather than individual acts that are spawned by these conditions. [_ . .J Just as within feminist theory the very category of the personal

is expanded to include political structures, so there is a theatrically-based and, indeed, less individually-oriented view of i

acts that goes some of the way in defusing the criticism of act theory as ʻ too existentialist."

1988, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution," 524-25







and reality. If one wears and can to some degree change what assigned heterosexual gender roles. It is to be at the least an one “really is,” then what about the existence of a settled “oddball,” maybe an actor or dancer. Or, if the refusal is more identity or an indwelling eternally abiding soul? Which leads to those who refuse to perform their

radical, to be “queer,” or “butch” or “femme,” a “drag queen ,”

bisexual or transsexual - or any other gender possibility that is outside hetero-orthodoxy. Butler and others who

Constructions of Race

adhere to her point of view believe that gender is “real”

If gender is performed, what about race? Does one “become” black, White, brown, red, or yellow in the same way that one

only insofar and in the specific ways it is performed. She also

makes the very important distinction between performing against the dominant code in a theatre and doing so in the becomes a woman or man? Does skin color, a set of facial street. Much more is permitted onstage than off. Offstage features, hair, or any single attribute, or combination of

attributes, indicate that a person belongs to one race or

there are no conventions of the theatre to protect a

drag queen from ridicule or worse (See figure 5.6). Even another? Are there any dependable markers of race? Skin remaining in the closet, being “quietly gay,” as it were, is no color and all other “racial features” are extremely variable protection against attacks ranging from stares and verbal across populations. Race is akin to ethnicity, a human cultural feature. As a abuse to murder. Unorthodox gender performatives are not cultural feature, race matters. But the importance of race as merely affronts to patriarchy; they challenge long-standing Western philosophical distinctions between appearance a cultural category cannot be sustained by its often purported basis in “nature.” Visible marks of race are unreliable. To take “blacks” and “whites” as an instance, many so-called “whites” have darker skin than many so-called “blacks” Other visible markers such as hair texture, eye and nose shape, and so on are also unreliable f not only in relation to “black” and

“white” but also with regard to other groups. ]ews have sometimes been designated as a race with specific facial characteristics (big noses, thick lips, dark eyes), sometimes as a religious group with no particular racial markers. But what about under the skin? Biologists and anthropologists agree that race has no basis in genetics or biology (see Marshall box).

Because race is a cultural construct, racial identifications

change in reaction to culture-specific historical forces. For example, throughout much of US history, people were placed in, and placed themselves in, very definite racial categories. But with the numbers of multiracial and multicultural children growing, and the influx of millions of people from Latin America and Asia, the categories began to collapse. In the 2000 US census, more people than ever before identified themselves as “multicultural” or refused to categorize

themselves racially. Even the shift in nomenclature is important. As late as the 1970s words such as “black,” “Negro,” or “colored” were in general use. But today one speaks mostly of “African Americans,” pointing to culture

and geography rather than color. Other groups that formerly were identified by color are also now marked by nationality or ethnicity (“Chinese” or “]apanese,” not “yellow,” “Native American,” not “red ,” “Indian” or “South Asian,” not brown). fig 5.6. A drag queen at the annual Gay Pride March, Melbourne. Photograph by Robert Francis. Copyright Hutchison Library.

Despite this, racial categories tied to visible markers persist and have very important effects. lronically, even after color


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Eddie Murphy (l96l- ): American actor and comedian. Films

Adrian Piper (l948-- )2 Conceptual artist and philosopher whose

include 48 his (1982), BEYCILV Hills Cop (1984), The Nutty Professor (1996), and its sequels.

work in numerous media, including live performance, focuses on issues of race, racism, and racial stereotyping. Adrian Piper: A

Retrospective (1999) is a comprehensive overview of her art works. Many ofPiper’s writings are published in the two-volume collection Out cj'OrcIet, Out ¢fSigbt: Selected Writings in Meta-Art and An Criticism

Eminem (l976- ): American rap artist, born Marshall Mathers. Hit songs include ‘The Real Slim Shady’ (2000) and ‘Way I Am’

I 967-1 992 (1996).


Immanuel Kant (1724--l 804): German philosopher, author ofthe

Adrian Piper (l948- ) theorizes race both in her writings and in performance. Piper, a philosopher specializing in Immanuel Kant (1724-I 804), is also a conceptual artist whose performance art and installations focus on racism, racial stereotyping, and xenophobia. One of her best-known works is Comered (l 988), a video installation that begins with Piper, dressed in dark clothes, a string of pearls around her

Critique gf Pure Reason (1781/87), Critique qf Practical Reason (1788), and Critique gf judgment (1790) as well as numerous other seminal

works in critical philosophy.

neck, seated in the corner of a room at a table, hands folded,

looking directly at the camera (see figure 5.7).The TV set on which Piper’s image appears is itself placed in the corner of the gallery with an overturned table in front of it_The set

up suggests both being cornered (thatiltrapped) and some

kind of violent overturn. After a pause; the light-skinned Piper begins. “lʼm black. Now letʼs deal with this social fact and the fact of my stating it, together.” Piper's inaugural challenge is a “speech act,” a performative. She goes on. “lfl don’t tell you who I am, then I have to pass for white. And why should I have to do that? The problem with passing for white is that it is not only that it is based on sick values, which it is, It’s also that it creates a degrading situation in which I may have to listen to insulting remarks about blacks made by whites who mistakenly believe there are no blacks present. Thatʼs asking a bit much. Iʼm sure youʼll agree_”Assuming a white spectator, for the next 30 minutes Piper, earnestly but with cutting irony, dissects the emotional impact, social practices, and legalities of racism in America. Piper never raises her voice. She develops her points with impeccable logic. She does not speak directly of enslavement, lynchings, and segregation or give graphic examples of American racism. I-Ier anger is understated. Presenting herself in a manner that confounds stereotyping, Piper dissects what constitutes racial identity. She asserts that according to commonly accepted beliefs that race is “in the blood,” everyone in the USA has between 5 and 20 percent black ancestry. “Most purportedly white Americans are in fact black. [_ _ .] The chances are really quite good that you are, in fact, black. What are you going to do about it?" Sarcastically, Piper invites the viewer to tell friends and employers that s/ he is black. Or, Piper suggests, why not take

fig 5.7. Cornered, a video Installation, 1988. Photograph courtesy of Adrian Piper.

advantage of “affirmative action” programs designed to assist blacks? Or stay silent or discredit the research or dismiss Comered as just another “art experience.” Piper corners the viewer, concluding the 20-minute piece with the challenge, “Now that you have this information about your black ancestry, whatever you do counts as a choice. . So, what are you going to do?” In Comered and many other of her works, Piper probes the shifting ground that barely supports socially

constructed racial categories. Take, for example, the Angry Art “calling card” Piper gives to people who make racist remarks or let them pass unchallenged when made by others (See Hgure 5.8). When someone who “looks” black

“acts” white, or vice versa, the person may be accused of “passing” - pretending or performing a self that one has no legitimate claim to given the racist constructions of contemporary Euro-American society (see Piper box). But as Piper points out, the very concept of racial classification is an instrument of racism. Race, like gender, is constructed.



Dear Friend.

I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed

at/agreed with that racist remark. In the past, I have attempted to alen white people to my racial identity in advance. L.lnfortt=riately, t his inv a ria bly c a us e s t he m Io re a c t t o m e a s pus hy , manipulative. or socially inappropriate. Therefore, my policy is to assume that white people do not make these remarks. even when they believe there are no black people present, and to distribute this card when they do. I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I am sure you regret the discomfort your racism is causing me.

Hg 5.8. An “Angry Art” card Adrian Piper glves to people who make racist remarks or do not intervene when others do so, 1986. Card courtesy of Adrian Piper.

Adrian P I' On Passing and Not Passing It was the New Graduate Student Reception for my class, the first social event of my first semester in the best graduate department in my field in the country. I was full of myself, as we all were, full of pride at having made the final cut I. . .]. I was a bit late, and noticed that many turned to look at- no scrutinize - me as I entered the room. I congratulated myself on having selected for wear my black velvet, bell-bottomed pantsuit (yes, it was that long ago) with the cream silk blouse and crimson vest. [. _ .]

The most famous and highly respected member of the faculty observed me for a while from a distance and then came forward. Without introduction or preamble, he said to me with a triumphant smirk, “lt/liss Piper, youʼre about as black as I am." One of the benefits of automatic pilot in social situations is that insults take longer to make themselves felt. I. _ .J What I felt was numb, and then shocked and terrified, disoriented, as though I’d been awakened from a sweet dream of unconditional

support and approval and plunged into a nightmare of jeering contempt. I. . .J Finally, there was the groundless shame of the inadvertent impostor, exposed to public ridicule or accusation. For this kind of shame, you don't actually need to have done anything wrong. All you need to do is care about others' image of you, and fail in your actions to reinforce their positive image of themselves. Their ridicule and accusations then function to both disown and degrade you from their status, to make you as not having done wrong but as being wrong. E. . .]

And I experienced (then, and at other times] that same groundless shame, not only in response to those who accused me of passing for black but also in response to those who accused me of passing for white. This was the shame caused by people who

conveyed to me that I was underhanded or manipulative, trying to hide something, pretending to be something I was not, by telling them I was black, like the art critic in the early 1970s who had treated me with the respect she gave emerging white women artists inthe early days of second-wave feminism, until my work turned to issues of racial identity; she then called me to verify that I was black, reproached me for not telling her, and finally disappeared from my professional life altogether. [. _ .]

But I've learned that there is no “right" way of managing the issue of my racial identity, no way that will not offend or alienate someone, because my designated racial identity itself exposes the very concept of racial classification as the offensive and irrational instrument of racism that it is. We see this in the history of classifying terms variously used to designate those brought

as slaves to this country and their offspring: first “blacks/ʼ then “darkies,” then “Negroes/' then “colored people,” then

“blacks" again, then “Afro-Americans,” then "people of color," now “African-Americans." Why is it that we can’t seem to get it right, once and for all? The reason, I think, is that it doesn’t really matter what term we use to designate those who have inferior

and disadvantaged status, because whatever term is used will eventually turn into a term of derision and disparagement in virtue of its reference to those who are derided and disparaged, and so will need to be discarded for an unsullied one. 1992, “Passing for White, Passing for Black," in Out of Order, Out of Sight, vol. 1, 275-76, 96



Performance Art Piper’s pieces are performance art, a grab-bag category of works that do not fit neatly into theatre, dance, music, or visual art (see Brentano box). Much performance art

examples of “the personal is the political” art but none more striking than Carolee Schneemann’s (I 939e ) 1975 performance, Interior Scroll (see figure 5.9). Naked, Schneemann reaches into her vulva and pulls out a long scroll from which she reads her text:

puts into practice theories of performativity. This is especially true of performance art that deals with the construction of identity and in so doing enacts the slogan, “the personal is the political," a program that originated with feminist

performance artists in the 19705 (See Roth box). This formulation is only possible in light of the theoretical

proposition of performativity as developed by the poststructuralists. Only by recognizing that identity is con-

structed, not given, contested, not settled, historically and politically evolving, not fixed in “nature,” can the practice of personal art, be regarded as political. There are many

[. _ .] there are certain films We cannot look at

the personal clutter the persistence of feelings the hand-touch sensibility the diaristic indulgence the painterly mess the dense gestalt the primitive techniques.

Robyn Brentano Performance Art

The term “performance art" first appeared around 1970 to describe the ephemeral, time-based, and process-oriented work of conceptual (“body"> and feminist artists that was emerging at the time. It was also applied retrospectively to Happenings, Fluxus events, and other intermedia performances from the 19605. Over the past thirty-five years, many styles and modes of performance have evolved, from private, introspective investigations to ordinary routines of everyday life, cathartic rituals and trials of endurance, site-specific environmental transformations, technically sophisticated multimedia productions, autobiographically-based cabaret-style performance, and large-scale, community-based projects designed to serve as a source of social and political empowerment. I. . .] What has come to be cal led performance art II. . .Il has taken myriad forms, a result of its interdisciplinary nature (drawing from painting, sculpture, dance, theater, music, poetry, cinema, and video) and disparate influences, including E. _ .J the Futurists, Dadaists, Constructivists, Surrealists, Abstract Expressionism, performance and art traditions of Native American and non-European cultures, feminism, new communications technologies, and popular forms such as cabaret, the music hall, vaudeville, the circus, athletic events, puppetry, parades, and public spectacles.

1994, Outside the Frame, 31-32

l\/loira The Personal is the Political Performance art began in the late 1%Os at the same time as the women’s movement. In the general context of a highly charged and theatrical decade, radical feminists employed theatre in such events as the 1969 disruption of the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City and the nationwide WITCH (Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell) demonstrations



at the same time. ln feminist art circles, theatrical means - raw eggs and sanitary napkins littering pristine museum spaces - were used to protest the low percentage of women in the 1970 Whitney lVluseum’s Biennial in New York. [_ _ .] At the same time as women plunged into public battles, they also took on, within themselves, private ones. Through consciousness-raising groups, harsh feminist manifestos, poetic evocations in literature and scholarly studies, women including many early performers - individually explored and collectively validated the substance of their lives. They re~ examined and redefined the models on which they had based their self-images. As early feminists recognized that what had

previously been designated (and, accordingly, often dismissed) as merely individual experience was, in actuality, an experience shared by many others, they developed the concept that “the personal is the political." It was this fresh and passionate investigation of self and of identification with other women that created the fervent supportive alliance between the first

women performers and their audiences. And it was this bonding with the often all-women audiences, as much as the new

personal content in the art, that accounted for the power of the early work. 1983, The Amazing Decade, 16-17

Carolee Schneemann (1939-): American visual and performance artist. Works include Meat ja] (1964), Immor Scroll (1975) Catscan and VuIva’s School (1995).Sheis theauthor of MoreThan Meat joy (Znd edn,1995).







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_ Hg 5 9. Carolee Schneemann performing Interior 5cro/I, 1975. Photograph courtesy of Carolee Schneemann



These were words Schneemann attributed to a “structuralist filmmaker” who refused even to look at Schneemann's films.

Ironic, angry, and f given the taboos of that time - shocking, Schneemann’s piece was personal, political, and avant-garde. She did not reject the filmmaker’s estimation that her Work

specific audiences of women or gays or political activists of a given kind. No longer was art seen as converging on the grand places and occasions of official culture, Lincoln Center or Broa dw a Y_ P e rform a nc e a rt tookPla c e in v e nue s not previously used for performance - roofs, beaches, swimming pools, galleries, street corners, storefronts (and many more).

was personal, full of touch, indulgent, messy, primitive. She aintin g ree from P g see rejected his rejection, arguing on the contrary that the very Performance art evolved to some de qualities the male filmmaker felt disqualified Schneemann's Kaprow box l).Therefore, unlike theatre, dance, and music work from even being looked at were what made her work much performance art was and is the work of individual artists using their own selvesPf bodiesYs ches notebooks important and new. History proved her right. > > 1 In the early days of performance art, much ofthe audience consisted of fellow artists who freely borrowed from each other. What took place was an extremely fertile convergence

of ideas, techniques, and audiences. Some artists sought out

exPeriences f as material.The Pwork was not sha ed for large

general audiences, but kept particularity and edge. It was a fine eC uivalent to the and thought l q uirk ,difficult Y > stimulatin g of Peo Ple like Derrida.

Allan | Happenings With the breakdown of the classical harmonies following the introduction of “irrational” or nonharmonic juxtapositions,

the Cubists tacitly opened up a path to infinity. Once foreign matter was introduced into the picture in the form of paper

[collage], it was only a matter of time before everything else foreign to paint and canvas would be allowed to get into the creative act, including real space. Simplifying the history of the ensuing evolution into a flashback, this is what happened: the pieces of paper curled up off the canvas, were removed from the surface to exist on their own, became more solid as they grew into other materials and, reaching out further into the room, finally filled it entirely. [_ . .J Inasmuch as people visiting such Environments are moving, colored shapes too, and were counted “in," mechanically moving parts could be added, and parts of the created surroundings could then be rearranged like furniture at the artistʼs and visitors' discretion. And, logically since the visitor could and did speak, sound and speech, mechanical and recorded, were also soon to be in order. Odors followed.

1966, Assemb/age, Environments, and Happenings, 165-66

not naturalism or any other kind of mimesis, but art that conformed to the processes of ordinary life. During the same futurism, dada, Surrealism, and so on.The immediate source period, many postmodern dancers rejected the strict of performance art was a convergence of Happenings, codifications of both ballet and modern dance. They favored postmodern dance, and pop art (see figures 5.10 and I I). “pedestrian,” or everyday, movement, let dancers speak about Allan Kaprow coined the word “Happenings” to describe their own lives as they danced, and got involved in political art events that simply happened without picture frames, actions (see Banes box). plots, or any marks of orthodox visual arts, theatre, dance, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968): Extremely influential French dada or music. In 1966, Kaprow outlined the seven qualities of artist. Among his many works are the painting Nude Descending a Happenings (See Kaprow box 2). In his own way, he was Staircase(1 91 2),theConstruction TheBrideStripped Bareby herBachelors, laying the basis for “the personal is the political .” Kaprow, Even (also known as the Large Glass) (1915-23), and his “readymades” Performance art is part of a line of the avant-garde reaching back to the turn of the twentieth century 4 symbolism,

like Marcel Duchamp (l887»1968) and Andy Warhol,

wanted to demystify art, debunk the establishment that controlled museums, and make arts that could be performed by anyone. Kaprow proclaimed what he called“lifelike art”159

~ ordinary objects displayed as art. Duchamp’s most notorious readymade is Fountain (1917), a urinal. Duchamp lived for many years in New York, becoming an American citizen in 1955.

P ' 7 '


Allan l The Seven Qualities of Happenings 1. The line between art and life is fluid, even indistinct. 2. The themes, materials, and actions of happenings are taken from anywhere but the arts. 3. Happenings should be performed in several widely spaced locales.

4. Time, which follows closely on spatial considerations should be variable and discontinuous. 5. Happenings should be performed only once.

6. Audiences should be eliminated entirely - everyone at a Happening participates in it. 7. The composition/sequence of events is not rational or narrational, but based on associations among various parts; or by chance. 1966, Assemblage, Environments, and Happenings, 88-98



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Hg 5.10. Marilyn Monroe Diptych by Andy Warhol, 1962. Copyright Tate, London. Copyright Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, l`lY and DAC5 l_OfldOl'l _


Mimesis: Greek word meaning “imitation." In the Poetics Aristotle argues that a tragedy is a “mimesis of a praxis” (an action) of great enough magnitude to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Exactly what Aristotle meant by mimesis has been the subject of much debate over the centuries. C\u'rently, most

#SQ fig 5.1 1. The dance collective Grand Union in performance at Judson Church, 19605. Photograph by Michael Kirby. Photograph courtesy of Richard Schechner


commentators agree that Aristotle did not mean mimesis literally but as a specific artistic process of representation.


Any action consciously performed refers to itself, is part of itself. Its “origin” is its repetition. Every consciously performed action is an instance of restored behavior. Restored behavior enacted not on a stage but in “real life” is what poststructuralists call a “performative” It is their

Sally Banes Postmodern Dance

look at movement for its own sake. But there are other

contention that all social identities, gender, for example, are performatives. The Gravedigger is not so much repeating himself as he is proposing a situation where the smaller (“to act”) contains the larger (“an act”). He is also connecting “an act” as something accomplished in everyday life with “to act,” something played on the stage. The ultimate example of “to act” is “to perform” - to be reflexive about one's

purposes post-modernism claims for dance. One is that

acting. Shakespeare did not have Austin, Derrida, or Butler

a dance can formulate or illustrate a theory of dance

in mind when he wrote Hamlet. But the Gravedigger’s brief disquisition shows that the notion of performativity has been around a long time.

Originally reacting against the expressionism of modern

dance, which anchored movement to a literary idea or musical form, the post-modernists propose E. _ .] that the formal qualities of dance might be reason enough for choreography, and that the purpose of making dances

might be simply to make a framework within which we

[_ . .]. Another purpose, partly inspired by phenomen-

ological philosophers and writers, is to embody different perspectives on space, time, or orientation to gravity [. _ .]. The breakdown of the distinction between art and


life E. _ .], the clarification of individual, discrete movements, the isolation of the essential characteristics of dance, have all become valid purposes for making a

Theories of .performativity insist that all social realities are

dance. So has the option of making a dance for the

constructed. The construction of gender, race, and identity

pleasure of the dancer, whether or not the spectator finds

are but three examples of an all-encompassing theory. Social life as behaved is performed in the sense that I outlined in chapter 2: every social activity can be understood as a showing of a doing. I Write “as behaved” to underline the “liveness” of certain aspects of social life - and to circumscribe the particular region that is most important to performance

it pleasing, or even accessible. The very question of what it means to create a dance can generate choreography:

is writing a score [_ _ .J an act of choreography? Is dance

making an act of construction and craft or a process of decision making? In post-modern dance, the chore-

studies. This broad definition of liveness includes film,

ographer becomes a critic, educating spectators in ways to look at dance, challenging the expectations the audience brings to the performance, framing parts of the dance for closer inspection, commenting on the dance as

television, recorded musics, telephony, and the internet. These cannot be regarded as mere reproductions; because of how they are produced and received they participate in “liveness” Other parts of social life are not behaved, or at least not obviously so, such as laws, architecture, written literature, and the like. I-Iowever, poststructuralist theories of

it progresses.

1980, Terpsfchore in Sneakers, 15-16

performativity indicate that evenvthese aspects of social life

What the Gravedigger Knew

about the Performative

Discussing whether or not Ophelia’s suicide bars her from heaven, the more theoretical of two Gravediggers asserts, “An act hath three branches - it is to do, to act, to perform” (Hamlet, 5.1: ll). The Gravedigger divides an action into

its physical attributes (“do”), its social aspects (“act”), and its theatrical qualities (“perform”). But why does he use the word “act” twice - first as an overall category and then as a subset of itself?

can be best understood “as performance .”Austin’s performative concerned utterances only. But those who built on Austin’s ideas were soon discovering awide range of “speech acts” and applying the theory of performativity to all areas of social life. Derrida’s insistence that all human codes and cultural expressions are “writing” is a powerful example of this kind of thinking.

These theories of the performative inhabit performance art, especially works dealing with gender, race, and the assertion that the personal is the political. And just as theorists found the performative in all areas of personal and social life, so performance artists broke free from orthodox venues and styles of performance. Some performance art may take only


Schechner, Richard. Performativity