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[08] Humor as Power Destabilizer: Joyful Resistance in Feminist Performance Practices

Description:

“I’d suggest a campaign: not to fight the status quo with indignation’s flaming sword or with the pitiful trembling of sorrow, but to make evident how ridiculous, obsolete, corny, and idiotic they are. I assure you, we have sufficient material to laugh for quite a while. We need to laugh so much, because laughter is the most immediate form of liberation from what opresses us, from the alienation that imprisons us!”  

—Rosario Castellanos

Humor and laughter can be thought of as affections/affectations able to spark action and/or transformation. Humor’s potential as a weapon of resistance is a well-known practice of feminist performance and other cultural feminist productions. Many women have used irony and parody as critical tools/weapons, from the above-quoted Rosario Castelllanos to Jesusa Rodríguez. In the face of the inequity, injustice, and violence, humor heals us and saves us from sorrow. It ignites a blissful resistance that takes on patriarchal power: “I creatively disobey you.”

Feminist humor gives us the possibility to reelaborate and resignify socially constructed experiences within specific contexts according to different parameters such as gender, class, race, age, among other crucial differences that contribute to the symbolic systems through which every culture imagines its existence. Humor is always a situational affair. The uses of humoristic strategies in performance highlight specific epistemic movements that characterize our present times. Together, we will think about the uses of humor in feminist cultural productions in general, whilst focusing specifically in performance, asking ourselves: What are our ways of constructing feminist humor? How can we embody insolent feminist laughter?

Format and structure:

The work group will be structured according to the participants’ presentations. In order to understand the communicative lines of every proposal and be able to create a final “action” through the formats proposed in the group sessions.

We will engage in a brief archival revision which will include own repertoires, whilst we think about what we—as an emerging and ephemeral collective situated in a quite specific context, and according to our presents, experiences, and political objectives—want to laugh at. We will search inside our repertoires for the humoristic strategies needed to communicate what we want through the body.

List of what applications to the work group should include:

Answer, in any style you prefer, the following questions: What is feminist humor for you? How have you experienced feminist humor within performatic practices? (as spectator, as creator, both simultaneously or any manner your own experience). Lastly, share with us your favorite performance pieces (feminist performances are prefered) that use humoristic strategies.

Ideal number of participants:

10-15

Languages spoken/understood by the conveners:

English, Spanish, Portuguese and limited French.

Conveners:

Julia Antivilo is a historian and feminist artivist from Huasco, Chile. She holds a PhD in Latin American Studies, and recently completed postdoctoral research on artivism and sexual dissidence in Latin America. Antivilo is the author of: Belén de Sárraga: Precursora del feminismo hispanoamericano with Luis Vitale (2000), and Entre lo sagrado y lo profano se tejen rebeldías: Arte feminista Latinoamericano (2015), among others. She has also published several journal articles about cultural studies, as well as the social and cultural role of women, and art, gender, and feminism. In addition, as a feminist artivist, she has been part of several collectives in Chile and Mexico. She has particpated in academic, artistic and feminist events in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Cuba, U.S. and Canada. She currently resides in Mexico and collaborates with artivist groups and their archives, including La Pocha Nostra, Pinto mi Raya, and Producciones, and Milagros Feminist Association A.C.

Alejandra Gorráez Puga is a feminist scholar and performance doer/maker from Puebla, México. She is a PhD candidate in the Art History Program at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where she is developing a research project entitled “Humor and Laughter as Weapons: Women Performers in Mexico,” which is an intervention in contemporary Mexican art history based on feminist and decolonial/anticolonial perspectives. She believes in the power of metaphors and her analytical and creative work focuses on their comprehension, assimilation, transmission, and embodiment, as well as the appropriation of performatic methodologies for the multidimensional intervention of the present  within which we exist as a part of feminist-collective-resistance-spiritual activism-cultural practices/strategies.