Queer and Subjugated Knowledge


Author(s): Cristyn Davies

Pp: 23-55 (33)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805339111204010023

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


This chapter imagines performance art as queer time and space. Performance art not only contests normative structures of traditional theatrical performance, but also challenges understandings of normative subjects, and the relation of the arts to structures of power. Focusing on two performances: Australian performance artist Elena Knox’s solo show, Lapdog, which fuses cabaret with poetry and physical performance, and Spiegeltent Productions’ global theatrical phenomenon, La Clique, inspired by cabaret, new burlesque, circus and contemporary vaudeville, Davies explores narratives of resistance, counterdiscourses, and alternative imaginings of gender, sexuality and socio-cultural life. In her performance of Lapdog, Knox attends to gender, sexuality and class as these categories affect the position of women in the service industries. Her persona is a Barbie doll that breaks free from her box, but still perpetually imagines herself elsewhere while she undertakes the mundane tasks required by the various apparatus of her ‘outfit.’ Throughout her performance she develops subversive techniques resisting the politics of consumption, while drawing attention to the heteronormative framework in which she has been designed to excel. Performed on a larger scale, La Clique includes two pin-striped, pipe-smoking, acrobatic English gents in bowler hats, an erotically charged bathtub acrobat, and an American hula hoop act in which the performer subverts the notion of patriotism by playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ through vaginal contractions. In this tent of mirrors, performers queer normative boundaries through challenging bodily acts and practices to entertain, mesmerize and provide an audience with an alternative, seductive and chaotic imaginary world. Elizabeth Stephens responds to this chapter.

Keywords: Performance, performance art, queer, time, space, cabaret, burlesque, gender, sexuality, La Clique, Lapdog, Elena Knox, Spiegeltent.

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