18 Pages

Minding the Matter of Representation: Staging the Body (Politic)

The enthusiastic attendance of audiences at the events indicated the upsurge of interest in "the Body" both within cultural theory and the arts and the more popular phenomenon of what Erica Jong has described as the mixed blessing of "Bodyism"l that permeates late capitalist, Western society. It is beyond the scope of this article to provide in-depth documentation and analysis of all the live artists involved in these three seasons or indeed of the numerous avant-garde theatre practitioners whose work has contributed to current debates concerning the body-inperformance and on whom there is already a wealth of critical material available for the interested reader (see Auslander, 1997; Birringer, 1993; Childs & Walwin, 1998; Counsell, 1996; Goldberg, 1988; Herbert, 1993; Innes, 1993; Kaye, 1996; Sandford, 1995; Vale & Juno, 1993). Instead I intend to trace the emergence of such live art and its continuing focus on the artist's body as source material and expressive medium, through a consideration of why the body has been foregrounded as a potentially subversive site of cultural intervention in radical performance throughout the twentieth century. Such precursory experimentation will be discussed and problematised in relation to the three proximate sources that Arthur W. Frank (1993: 39) has identified in contributing to the ubiquity of "the Body" throughout current cultural theory, namely Modernism, Postmodernism and Feminism.