Spaces of (Re)Connections: Performing Experiences of Disabling Gender Violence

Authors

  • Nicole Fayard University of Leicester

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.09.17

Keywords:

gender violence, performance art, disability, trauma, identity politics

Abstract

The article explores the potential “healing” role performance art can have when representing disabling trauma, and engaging, as part of the creative process, participants who have experienced in their lives significant trauma and physical, as well as mental health concerns arising from gender violence. It focuses on the show cicatrix macula, performed during the exhibition Speaking Out: Women Healing from the Trauma of Violence (Leicester, 2014). The exhibition involved disabled visual and creative artists, and engaged participants in the process of performance making. It was held at the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester (UK), a pioneering arts centre designed to be inclusive and accessible. The show cicatrix macula focused on social, cultural, mental, and physical representations of trauma and disability, using three lacerated life-size puppets to illustrate these depictions. Working under the direction of the audience, two artists attempted to “repair” the bodies. The creative process was a collaborative endeavour: the decision-making process rested with the audience, whose privileged positions of witness and meaning-maker were underscored. Fayard demonstrates the significance of cicatrix macula in debunking ablist gender norms, as well as in highlighting the role played by social and cultural enablers. She calls attention to its potential for mobilizing positive identity politics, including for viewers who had experienced trauma. For example, the environment of the participatory performance space offered some opportunities for the survivor to become the author or arbiter of her own recovery. In addition, the constant physical exchange of bodies within this space of debate was well-suited to the (re)connection with the self and with others.

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Author Biography

Nicole Fayard, University of Leicester

Nicole Fayard is Associate Professor in French and Translation Studies at the University of Leicester. Her research focuses on the history and politics of gender violence, trauma and feminist activism in France. She has written widely on the subject, including Speaking Out. Women Healing From the Trauma of Violence (2014). Fayard’s other research interests include the politics of the performance, translation and adaptation of Shakespeare in France and Europe, with particular reference to cultural memory and transnational identities. Editor or co-editor of Comparative Drama: Over His Dead Body (2016) and Multicultural Shakespeare: Shakespeare in/ out of Europe: Connecting Voices (2019), she is also the author of The Performance of Shakespeare in France since the Second World War: Re-Imagining Shakespeare (2006).

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Published

2019-12-30

How to Cite

Fayard, N. (2019). Spaces of (Re)Connections: Performing Experiences of Disabling Gender Violence. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (9), 273-291. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.09.17