The Female Cyborg as Grotesque in Performance

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This article analyses Julia Bardsley's performance Aftermaths: A Tear in the Meat of Vision as an example of contemporary performance that makes the connection between historical female hybrids and current ones. By using Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the grotesque and feminist responses to this, alongside ideas expounded in Donna Haraway's ‘Cyborg manifesto’, this article explores the similarities between female bodies that have been rendered hybrid historically through the grotesque and the contemporary figure of the cyborg. Bardsley reworks the Book of Revelations and in her role as carnival barker and harbinger of ‘the end’ she performs as male/female, human/animal, cyborg and grotesque body against the backdrop of a cave of technologized images. Her catwalk of monstrous, abjectified, grotesque and cyborgian female bodies refuses to show us female ‘meat’ on display, instead engaging with a complex recoding of traditional readings of female bodies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261 - 274
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Arts & Digital Media
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 2013