Trashy Tendencies: Indeterminate acts of refusal in contemporary art and performance practice

Parry, Owen. 2013. Trashy Tendencies: Indeterminate acts of refusal in contemporary art and performance practice. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Trashy Tendencies)
VIS_thesis_Parry_2013.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (9MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis explores trashy tendencies as creative and critical challenges to a reputable logics of cultural production. It outlines two approaches: the first considers a re-valorisation of trash through trashy aesthetics, antagonism and modes of knowing or ironic appreciation; the second considers art that renders trash precisely because we don’t have words to describe it, or don’t know how to value it. The latter in pushing at the limits of representation often gets relegated to the status of “shit”. This is precisely what Twinkle, the protagonist of my video-performance I Wanna be in that Film, (2010) calls performance art. Through artistic and theoretical methods it asks two overarching questions:

• Can trashy tendencies push beyond cultural binaries, or are they dependent upon, and remain caught within, the dualities of “high” and “low” art, “legitimate” and “illegitimate” culture?
• And, how to stage, read, and write about trashy tendencies without recuperating them into institutional logic, or without producing an unsympathetic thesis?

On calling forth the trashy, determined on the one hand as “low” or “cheap”, and on the other as something of indeterminate value, this thesis explores ways to push beyond the binaries, but also refuses to always line up with queer theories or complex concepts of becoming, which might strategise trash, eradicating its trashy affects. As such this thesis explores trash as a tactic, which incorporates and subverts trash aesthetics to offer something distinct from the oppositional strategies of trash cinema and political art, but also something different to conceptual strategy, non‐ representational art, or relational aesthetics. It argues that by paying attention to trashy tendencies (personal and impersonal) the very vital ethical, epistemological and ontological questions of art, performance and criticism are brought to the fore. Employing my art practice as a site of inquiry, it also makes use of a rigorous theoretical framework and archive of artistic and critical practices to provide focus and context for this project in the field of art history and performance studies.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


trashy; trash; contemporary performance; live art; performance art; indeterminate; refusal; trash publics; non-representational; trashy desire; trashy relations; participatory art; relational art; post-irony; illegitimate; one to one performance; colloquial; practice based research; lecture-performance; re-enactment; fictional realness; minor art; contact; tactics; performance sexploitations; conviviality; antagonism; failure; glamour; Jack Smith; Andy Warhol; Paris is Burning; Santiago Sierra; Thomas Hirschhorn; Ana Mendieta; Yoko Ono; Christeene; Die Antwoord; Vaginal Davis; Mel Brimfield; Plastique Fantastique; Zebra Katz; parody; super-parody; self-mythology; gossip

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Jul 2014 09:11

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:29


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)