By Laura Levin (auth.)
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Additional resources for Performing Ground: Space, Camouflage and the Art of Blending In
While Soja and Lefebvre are now routinely invoked in a performance analysis to signal an author’s engagement with the field of cultural geography, their insights are almost never explored alongside key texts of feminist geography, a large and rich sub-field, which has developed in response to dominant geographic paradigms. This body of feminist theory helps me to address blind spots around gender in at least two ways. First, I examine the relative invisibility of women’s contributions to the theatrical form commonly associated with experimental approaches to space: site-specific and environmental performance.
While ‘performing ground’ is sometimes a feminized act, it is certainly not particular to women (as an analysis purely drawing World Pictures 25 upon the writings of Irigaray might suggest). 101 We need to consider how these bodies structure the spaces of aesthetic and everyday performance, and how they complicate those facile binaries of figure/ground and onstage/ offstage that emerge if one develops a spatial politics merely around one aspect of identity. Further, it is imperative to examine how camouflage, and related ideas of passing, fitting in, and mimicry, have very different meanings for racially and culturally marked subjects when, for example, the privilege of blending into a larger, predominantly white picture may be not only a form of selling out but also a literal impossibility, or when becoming part of a larger environment necessitates giving up one’s own culture, history, or background.
This body of feminist theory helps me to address blind spots around gender in at least two ways. First, I examine the relative invisibility of women’s contributions to the theatrical form commonly associated with experimental approaches to space: site-specific and environmental performance. 99 Second, my approach allows me to read gender back into wellknown spatially oriented performances, especially in those performances where gender does not seem to be particularly at stake. 100 While I focus on gender as a category of identity that is routinely neglected in criticism on space in performance (and in site-specific work more generally), I am equally invested in thinking about how other identity categories like race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and class are inextricably linked to gender politics and also frequently left out of more formalist approaches to space.