Tuesday, December 23, 2014

the goal of performance is to make accessible......

"The long-term goal both of the small and the large-scale performance is to restructure people’s social identities by making accessible to them a common medium of communication—funk music and dance—that has been largely inaccessible to white culture and has consequently exacerbated the xenophobic fear, hostility, and incomprehension that generally characterize the reaction of whites to black popular culture in society. All aspects of that culture, including its speech patterns, conventions of social interaction, its music, and its dance have become the target of the last outpost of explicitly and socially legitimated racism, I believe, because these are the last artifact of black culture that are identifiably black, that is, have not been either appropriated or assimilated into white culture (usually through the back door: witness Elvis’s appropriation of Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones’ appropriation of Don Kovay, Bo Derek’s appropriation of cornrows, Al Jolson’s and Fred Astaire’s appropriations of minstrelsy, Peggy Lee’s appropriation of Ella Fitzgerald, etc.; the list is endless). I describe this reaction as racist, but in fact it is more generally xenophobic, because it is as much a response to anxiety and fear to perceived cultural differences that can be alleviated only by denying or appropriating them as it is a response of hostility or contempt to perceived racist stereotypes."

--Adrian Piper

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