2014/Spring: Acting Out, Politics of Performance

electiveposter_actingoutInstructed by Jordana Saggese.
In a 2002 interview, contemporary artist William Pope.L proclaimed: “Bottom line, artists don’t make art, they make conversation.” Indeed, Pope.L’s performances often provoke conversations about race, class, power, and privilege by deploying humorous and unexpected modes of social and cultural critique. For artists outside the majority, performance uniquely provides a live and interactive means of complicating the notion of representational visibility in both art and non-art contexts. This course explores the politics of performance and, more specifically, its potential to question rigid constructions of identity and difference. We will be especially interested in discussing how queers, artists of color, and those with intersectional identities use performance as a survival strategy, a mode of becoming, a means of intervening, a form of speculating, or a way of imagining other spaces that challenge ideological conventions and norms. We will consider the role of performative interventions as a model of social and intellectual activism, looking at examples both historical and contemporary, global and local. Class will be organized around the discussion of critical readings and screenings of live and recorded performances. Students will sharpen their research, verbal communication, and writing skills in the development of a research project on a topic of their choice. There will also be the potential to engage directly with the third biennial conference of the International Association of Visual Culture, which will meet in San Francisco in March 2014 under the theme: “Visual Activism.”