Breaching bodily boundaries: transgressive embodiment and gender queering in contemporary performance art

Riszko, Leila Nicole (2016) Breaching bodily boundaries: transgressive embodiment and gender queering in contemporary performance art. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis asks: how have recent changes in body politics impacted on the
themes and ideas explored in contemporary body-based performance? What
aesthetic and formal strategies do artists use to attempt to challenge
sedimented norms, hegemonies, and power structures related to gender and the
body? Contributing to an emerging field of contemporary research which takes a
queer, transfeminist methodological approach to disrupting conventional ways of
seeing and thinking sex, gender, and other constructions of the body, this study
centers on contemporary practices which utilise the performing body as a ground
for negotiating social prescriptions, and nurturing new, alternative forms of

This thesis undertakes the first detailed academic study of the performance
practice of three under-researched artists: Mouse, Cassils, and boychild. Via
close analysis of these case study examples it theorises specific deployments of
the transgressive body in performance and argues that these bodies challenge
assumptions of normative subjectivity through different strategies of queer
intervention and subversion. Mouse exploits the disruptive potentiality in abject,
grotesque, and parodic strategies; Cassils manipulates the binary structure of
the heterosexual hegemony by queering the material form of her/his own body;
and boychild’s queer, black embodiment extends beyond sci-fi inspired,
cyborgian aesthetics, toward a plotting of posthuman, afrofuturist politics.

Whilst each case study artist poses a challenge to bodily (hetero)normativity,
each works in a different style or form to the next, using different aesthetics
and appropriating from a range of ‘low’ or popular (sub)cultures. Consequently,
the analyses in this study are formulated using a methodology which interweaves
transdisciplinary ‘high’ theory approaches with non-academic literature on
popular and/or subcultural forms. This thesis therefore makes contributions to
knowledge primarily within the fields of body art and performance studies, but
also within (trans)gender and (trans)feminist studies, queer theory, critical race
theory and cultural studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Performance art, body politics, queer, gender studies, Mouse, Cassils, boychild.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Funder's Name: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Heddon, Professor Deirdre and Paterson, Dr. Dominic
Date of Award: 2016
Embargo Date: 30 May 2021
Depositing User: Dr Leila Riszko
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-8226
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2017 11:34
Last Modified: 31 May 2020 11:00

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item