Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics

Jose Esteban Munoz, Author, Jose Esteban Muunoz, Author University of Minnesota Press $59.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8166-3014-1
In eight essays (six of them previously published), Mu oz, an assistant professor of performance studies at NYU, explores the political and social impact of black, Latino and Asian performance artists on mainstream culture. Drawing on a wide range of examples--from Jean-Michel Basquiat's painting and his relationship with Andy Warhol to filmmaker Isaac Julian's response to Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs of African-American men, to the camp performance work of Cubana artists Ela Troyano and Carmelita Tropicana--Mu oz outlines a process he calls ""disidentification,"" in which an artist works inside the dominant culture while at the same time critiquing it. His insights into the complex ways that race, sexual difference, ethnicity, class and ""professionalization"" influence each artist's work can be startling, as when he compares mainstream drag films like To Wong Foo... to the work of transgressive drag performers like Vaginal Creme Davis, or when he reveals how Superman comics can be understood as a response to anti-Semitism. However, when he explores the work of the late Pedro Zamora (of MTV's The Real World) and claims that the Cubano star with AIDS ""used MTV more then it used him,"" or when he discusses Magic Johnson's AIDS education work yet overlooks the gender politics of his message, his analysis can come off as na ve. While these essays are consistently enlightening and provocative, their dependence on academic rhetoric makes them resistant to casual reading. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-8166-3015-8
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