Performing the Multiple : Dancing a Differently Configured Subjectivity

Peña, Jillian. 2013. Performing the Multiple : Dancing a Differently Configured Subjectivity. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The symbol of the multiple has been utilized in art throughout time. Displaying two or more bodies operating as a single entity, the multiple produces a number of effects in both visual form and content manifested. While this is commonly seen as displaying virtues of strength, perseverance and discipline, it is also questioned in its reduction of the individuals involved. “Performing the Multiple” explores the symbol across culture to examine both the popularity and the criticism of the form. I propose that Jacques Lacan’s mirror stage provides groundwork for the inherent meaning of the symbol. Starting with early modernist renditions of the multiple in Siegfried Kracauer’s Mass Ornament, I trace the form to contemporary dance. I then broaden my gaze to a range of practices including sculpture, photography, video, performance art, and pop media. I explore the ontology of three subjectivities prevalent in the performance of the multiple: the dancer, the female and the queer. My ultimate aim is to illuminate the symbol of the multiple and argue that in its current manifestations the multiple is a powerful site for re-imaging subjectivity. I propose that the multiple mediates the way subjectivities are embodied and has been repurposed over the years to produce a utopian subjectivity for female and queer identity.

In my own video and performance work, I explore methods of creating the visually pleasing form of the homogenous multiple, while maintaining difference. I am careful to recognize the individual subjectivities of the dancers while attempting to create a single, cohesive unit. I use the multiple with visual interest, but mainly because of the relationships it establishes between bodies. As a woman, a queer, and a dancer, the symbol of the multiple resonates with my identity, and is a useful tool to create works that are hypnotic visually and psychologically.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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Date Deposited:

07 Mar 2014 12:38

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:26


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