Unmarked: The Politics of Performance

Front Cover
Feminist film theory has made the psychic and political limitations of representational visibility abundantly clear. Yet the Left continues to promote visibility politics as a crucial aspect of progressive struggle. Unmarked examines the fraught relation between political and representational visibility and invisibility within both mainstream and avant-garde art. Suggesting that there may be some political power in an active disappearance from the visual field, Phelan looks carefully at examples of such absences in photography, film, theatre, the iconography of anti-abortion demonstrations, and performance art. A boldly specultative analysis of contemporary culture, Unmarked is a controversial study of the politics of performance. Situating performance theory within emerging theories of psychoanalysis, feminism, and cultural studies, Phelan argues that the non-reproductive power of performance offers a different way of thinking about cultural production and reproduction more generally. Written from and for the Left, Phelan's readings of the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Mira Schor, Yvonne Rainer, Jennie Livingstone, Tom Stoppard, Angelika Festa and Operation Rescue radically rethink the politics of cultural representation.

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Mapplethorpe Schor
Yvonne Rainers The Man Who Envied Women
Jennie Livingstons Paris Is Burning
Tom Stoppards Hapgood
discovering the body
representation without
notes on hope

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About the author (1993)

Peggy Phelan is chair of the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. She is the author of "Unmarked: The Politics of Performance and Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories".