Why would disabled people want to re-engage, re-enact and re-envisage the everyday encounters in public spaces and places that cast them as ugly, strange, stare-worthy? In Disability, Public Space Performance and Spectatorship: Unconscious Performers, Bree Hadley examines the performance practices of disabled artists in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australasia who do exactly this.
Operating in a live or performance art paradigm, artists like James Cunningham (Australia), Noemi Lakmaier (UK/Austria), Alison Jones (UK), Aaron Williamson (UK), Katherine Araniello (UK), Bill Shannon (US), Back to Back Theatre (Australia), Rita Marcalo (UK), Liz Crow (UK) and Mat Fraser (UK) all use installation and public space performance practices to restage their disabled identities in risky, guerrilla-style works that remind passers-by of their own complicity in the daily social drama of disability. In doing so, they draw spectators' attention to their own role in constructing Western concepts of disability.
This book investigates the way each of us can become unconscious performers in a daily social drama that positions people with disabilities as figures of tragedy, stigma or pity, and the aesthetics, politics and ethics of performance practices that intervene very directly in this drama. It constructs a framework for understanding the way spectators are positioned in these practices, and how they contribute to public sphere debates about disability today.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 224 pp. Hardback. 22 x 14.4 x 2 cm
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