On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century

C. Carr, Author Wesleyan University Press $25.95 (334p) ISBN 978-0-8195-6269-2
Since 1984, Village Voice critic Carr has chronicled the work of artists in that amorphous territory called ``performance art.'' Though some of these 58 essays have gone stale, most convey spirited descriptions and sensitive defenses of obscure or much-maligned avant-gardists. She observes Holly Hughes and Carmelita Tropicana bra-zenly presenting politically incorrect lesbian theater, finds dragster Ethyl Eichelberger transmuting Shakespeare into Leer and notes how Chris Burden's apparent masochism (having himself crucified on top of a Volkswagen) forces the audience to confront iconographies of power. Foul-mouthed, food-smearing Karen Finley is, to Carr, an example of a shattered persona, ``a self unable to put a face on things,'' while ``feminist porn activist'' Annie Sprinkle, allowing audiences to peer at her cervix, suggests a ``supernakedness'' that restores her power. Carr's best work takes on the critics of Finley and Robert Mapplethorpe, skewering Rev. Donald Wildmon and the would-be censors in Cincinnati. In an epilogue, Carr suggests the bohemian tradition has been energized as well as fractured by the advent of multiculturalism. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/1994
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Hardcover - 334 pages - 978-0-8195-5267-9
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