Publication Date

April 2015


Matthew Treme


College of Letters, Hispanic Literatures and Cultures


English (United States)


This analysis will seek to prove the female performing body as a site of knowing – a force to subvert political, social, personal and cultural narratives. Embodied performance will create an active language, one that is formed and changed by the play between bodies. The liveness of performance art highlights the body of the performer and the spectator as prisms for absorption, refraction, change and reflection of the experience of a performance. The female performing body thus takes on a role of acquiring knowledge – exposing the rehearsed, produced, and creative nature of everyday life. This analysis will focus on four performances by female artists from the Spanish-speaking world. Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña’s work Two Undiscovered Amerindians re-performs the discovery of the Americas. Their work effectively challenges the accepted interpretations of colonialism by disrupting the expectations of the spectator. The Madres de la Plaza de Mayo perform their motherhood weekly to respond to lives lost in Argentina’s “Dirty War.” In La Paz, Bolivia, the Mujeres Creando will deconstruct the Madres’ performance of ideal motherhood in “Acción 1.” The two groups effectively “reappear” lost bodies through very different manipulations of the performance of their daily selves. The combination of embodiment and written word permits the female performers to transition from biological mother to political motherhood, thereby imagining a new society through performance. In Angelica Liddell’s performance the treatment of her body implicates the spectator in a position of responsibility, making her work a mechanism of transformation of herself, the spectator, and society. Her aesthetic of shock alienates the audience, requiring a process of reflection that moves her performance off the stage and into reality.



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