Unmarked: The Politics of Performance

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Routledge, 1993 - Art - 207 pages
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Feminist film theory has made the psychic and political limitations of representational visibility clear. Yet the Left continues to promote visibility politics as a crucial aspect of progressive struggle. Unmarked examines the fraught relationship between political and representational visibility and invisibility within both mainstream and avant-garde art. Suggesting that there may be some political power in an active disappearance from the visual field, Phelan looks carefully at examples of such absences in photography, film, theatre, the iconography of anti-abortion demonstrations and performance art. A boldly specultative analysis of contemporary culture, Unmarked is a controversial study of the politics of performance. Situating performance theory within emerging theories of psychoanalysis, feminism and cultural studies, Phelan argues that the non-reproductive power of performance offers a different way of thinking about cultural production and reproduction more generally.

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An insightful and original approach to the liveness of performance. The chapters in this book raise questions around visibility and the unmarked and unseen potential that lies in disappearance and invisibility. This is a crucial work in the discussion of politics through performance theory. Read full review

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About the author (1993)

Peggy Phelan is chair of the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. She is the author of "Unmarked: The Politics of Performance and Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories".

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