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Liminal performance

Broadhurst, Susan (1995) Liminal performance. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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My thesis offers a description of a range of performative types which I have tentatively assembled under the heading of "Liminal Performance".

Typical liminal works are: in theatre, the hybridized performances of Robert Wilson's and Philip Glass' operatic "theatre of images", Einstein on the Beach, Pina Bausch's Tanztheater, the "synthetic fragments" of Heiner Muller's Hamletmachine, and the "social sculptures" of the Viennese Actionists; in film, the "painterly" aesthetics of Greenaway's Prospero's Books, transgressing borders with Wender's and Handke's Der Himmel iiber Berlin/Wings of Desire, the liminal politics of Derek Jarman's Edward II, and the limits of fragmentation in Von Triers's Europa/Zentropa\ and in music, the digitized performance of sampled music and the neo-gothic sound of Einsttirzende Neubauten and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

In the absence of any effective critical tools with which to interpret such works, I survey traditional aesthetics and current critical theory, including the writings of Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, and Lyotard, for an appropriate analysis. For example, the notion of the sublime in its Kantian as well as in its most recent definition by Lyotard in Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime (1991), when tested against the phenomena of liminal performance demonstrates a certain inadequacy of even the latest critical equipment. In this particular case Lyotard's linguistic bias leaves us with the fundamental lacunae of an account of non-verbal signification.

Given the importance of corporeality in liminal performance, Lyotard's and a range of other critical tools need to be "retooled". From the perspective of liminal performance, the "linguistic turn" needs to be adjusted to allow for an intersemiotic analysis and hence for the prominence of the "body".

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Ruthrof, Horst
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