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Hegemonic Discourse: Dancing Players


Animated Sculpted Earthenware

Duration 2:12

Hegemonic Discourse: Dancing Players, 2015


This work started from a childhood memory of playing chess with my father.  He placed a bet, if I win, he would do the dishes which he never did because the kitchen was clearly the women space.  To his surprise, I won. He placed such a bet because he didn't think I would beat him.  Gender roles are learned and performed by the societal standards.  We all have a choice in how we perform our roles we play.  Let's beat the game created for oppression for equality of all gender identies.

     This work was done for the acceptance of the unfamiliar forms of physical reflection and performative roles of gender in a hegemonic society.  Halberstam states in Masculinity and Performance, “white men derive enormous power from assuming and confirming the nonperformative nature of masculinity” (235) and to juxtapose this notion of power, the role playing game of chess is referenced.  The commonly played game of chess with a long history is symbolized through the form of the figures.         

     Three large scale sculptures that reference chess pieces have been made with earthenware to connect to the rawness of being human.  These chess pieces are called the “Players,” and present the layers of ornamentation and representation of power through the genders.  The chess pieces represent roles individuals choose to play and perform in their daily life. These Players represent the oppressed sub cultural groups with equal acceptance.  Hegemonic society is in need of awakening to reflect the human race as a whole rather than be represented by the false statements and depiction of gender, class, and race.

     Players in chess have their assigned roles in a imagined and structured society of the board.  Each piece performs a certain task for the game.  By removing the opposing king, victory is achieved but the king it self does not have the power to attack or defend a position due to the limited moves.  According to wikipedia and references made through investigation of chess, it is said that the king is the most important piece even though it is the weakest piece.  Even though that is supposedly not the case for the “endgame,” which in my opinion is just a forced acceptability of the king's powers.

     On the other hand, the queen who is not considered the most important piece has the most powers and is known to be the strongest piece on the board.  She is able to move in any direction and any amount of spaces that is open but without the king her game is over as well.  In this way, there is a layering of the relational power between the king and the queen and the masculine and the feminine.  “The individual is neither this or that but both; this layering collapses the constructedness of the gender binary into a wonderfully queer and messy reality.”  (142, Eir-Anne Edgar). The two gendered pieces perform both a passive role and active role.

     Throught the physical depiction of the exaggerated and mixing of gender ornamentation the unique performative nature of femininity and masculinity is represented.  Performative nature of gender is also expressed through the stop motion aspect of the film which is camp.  The Players performing a show at the Courthouse in Bowling Green, Ohio.  Representing the reaffirmation, the spreading knowledge and acceptance of being simply human with learned gender traits that  is structured by hegemonic society in need of power play over other human beings for their lack of self assurance.  

     Drag allows for subversion of gender norms and utilizes camp by creating opportunities to make fun of people who are in power positions due to their gender status.  Susan Sontag lists that “there is a sense in which it is correct to say ‘It’s too good to be Camp’.  Or ‘too important’, not marginal enough… Many examples of Camp are things which, from a ‘serious’ point of view, are either bad art or kitsch” (55).  This is like the way Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp made clever art making fun at what “art” is supposed to be expressing the unacknowledged oppression.  Camp is a way of artistic communication that contradicts it self at the same time it reveals itself through the contradiction.

     The subtle humor in the stop motion video of the players comes from the representation of camp that is as Pilip Core states, “Camp is always in the future; that is why the present needs it so badly” (86).  Through camp we should recognize the absurd prejudice that is projected and learned through the straight hegemonic cultures reflection of their insecurities.  Ethnocentrism of the hegemonic culture is subdued to focus the attention of the interplay of gender roles in each individual player that is part of the society.  We all choose to play our roles and how we want to perform our reality.   Masculinity as a certain confident and dominant trait in a human that can be embodied in a positive way just as femininity and with the balance of the yin and yang, we are able to self-actualize.


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