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Do you see what I mean? charting changing representations and receptions of the disabled body in contemporary and pop cultural performance

Hadley, Bree J. (2011) Do you see what I mean? charting changing representations and receptions of the disabled body in contemporary and pop cultural performance. In Hadley, Bree J. (Ed.) Australasian Association for Theatre Drama & Performance Studies Conference 2011, 28 June - 1 July 2011, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic. (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    The meaning of the body emerges through acts of seeing, looking and staring in daily and dramatic performances. Acts that are, as Maike Bleeker argues1, bound up with the scopic rules, regimes and narratives that apply in specific cultures at specific times. In Western culture, the disabled body has been seen as a sign of defect, deficiency, fear, shame or stigma. Disabled artists – Mat Fraser, Bill Shannon, Aaron Williamson, Katherine Araniello, Liz Crow and Ju Gosling – have attempted, via performances that co-opt conventional images of the disabled body, to challenge dominant ways of representing and responding such bodies from within. In this paper, I consider what happens when non-disabled artists co-opt images of the disabled body to draw attention to, affirm, and even exoticise, eroticise or beautify, other modalities of or desires for difference. As Carrie Sandahl has noted2, the signs, symbols and somatic idiosyncrasies of the disabled body are, today, transported or translated into theatre, film and television as a metaphor or "master trope" for every body’s experience of difference. This happens in performance art (Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s use of a wheelchair in Chamber of Confessions), performance (Marie Chouinard's use of crutches, canes and walkers to represent dancers’ experience of becoming different or mutant during training in bODY rEMIX /gOLDBERG vARIATIONS), and pop culture (characters in wheelchairs in Glee or Oz). In this paper, I chart changing representations and receptions of the disabled body in such contexts. I use analysis of this cultural shift as a starting point for a re-consideration of questions about whether a face-toface encounter with a disabled body is in fact a privileged site for the emergence of a politics, and whether co-opting disability as a metaphor for a range of difference differences reduces its currency as a category around which a specific group might mobilise a politics.

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    ID Code: 50292
    Item Type: Conference Paper
    Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
    Divisions: Current > Schools > Drama
    Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
    Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
    Deposited On: 15 May 2012 12:38
    Last Modified: 06 Sep 2013 15:56

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