Mary Coble: Performance Art and Poltics of an Archive
Talwar, Savneet K.
Struna, Nancy L
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This dissertation explores the relationships among performance art, the archive and intersubjectivity. Using methods of critical ethnography, visual and textual analysis, I examine the archive of performance art, and the discourses of the body, especially in the work of performance artist Mary Coble. I explore the ways in which performance art disrupts the ideological discourses of the institutional archive, especially those surrounding the body and constructing normative sexual and civic identities. The institutional archive has served as a guardian of memory that makes it the creator of knowledge. Performance artists work within the conceptual space of an archive as a way to make visible the ideological systems of power; this they do through reenactments and re-presentations, in effect creating a counter-archive of political and gendered memorial spaces. I question how performance artists, critiquing the visual hegemony of the white, male dominated art world, confront issues of identity and difference, including ones of race, gender, sexuality and citizenship. I am interested in how "knowledge" is situated in the embodied experiences of the performer, researcher, artist, community and its participants. In this sense the archive is not simply a site of documentation and knowledge retrieval, but also as a locus of the feelings and emotions that produce knowledge and meaning.