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Anneka Esch-van Kan:
"Torture Chicks" – Resistance and the Political in Coco Fusco's "A Room of One's Own" and "A Field Guide for Female Interrogators"
(p. 185 – 199)

Anneka Esch-van Kan

"Torture Chicks" – Resistance and the Political in Coco Fusco's "A Room of One's Own" and "A Field Guide for Female Interrogators"

PDF, 15 pages

In this essay Esch-van Kan deals with performance artist/scholar Coco Fusco’s series of theatrical and filmic responses to the specific role of female interrogators (2005–2008). Avoiding the snares of ethical arguments, Fusco sidesteps the question whether torture is legitimate, asking instead how torture could be defined; and shifts the perspective from the victims to the perpetrators. With an all-female group of artists and scholars, Fusco took part in a boot camp designed for non-military persons who desire to be trained in interrogation techniques, entered into a dialogue with the instructors, and developed a film, a street as well as a lecture performance, and a book out of her experiences and in-depth research. Esch-van Kan tries to vindicate the view that the plurality of interlinked forms of artistic expressions are fundamental for the resistant potential of Fusco’s artistic work and emphasizes how it relates to an inextricable triangulation of thinking – resisting – reading the political. She argues that Fusco’s confrontation of debates on the legitimacy and definition of torture with feminist struggles against female exploitation and stereotypes can be considered in terms of Lyotard’s différend, and that Fusco’s entire project and her tactics closely relate to contemporary thoughts on the political. Finally, she claims that Fusco’s artistic practices are closely connected to more general shifts in the thinking of resistance and political art. The confrontation of art, research, and philosophy in (resistant) artistic practices then proves itself productive and allows utopian impulses to subsist that otherwise might be devalued as flawed or naive.

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  • resistance
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  • contemporary art
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Anneka Esch-van Kan

Anneka Esch-van Kan

is a member of the Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at the University of Giessen, where she pursues her PhD project Representation of Crisis – Crisis of Representation. The Politics of Aesthetics and 21st Century. Political Theatre in the United States. Her research interests include the relations between politics and aesthetics, experimental theater in Europe and the US, contemporary (American) drama, poststructuralist philosophy, and points of contact between theories of culture and disability studies.

Other texts by Anneka Esch-van Kan for DIAPHANES
Anneka Esch-van Kan (ed.), Stephan Packard (ed.), ...: Thinking – Resisting – Reading the Political

This volume contrasts a number of recently suggested concepts of the political – each of which connects to certain instances of art and literature in its discourse – with questions concerning the rigidity of those connections: How strongly do such claims to politics depend on their specific examples, what is the scope of their validity to understand art with regard to politics, and how can they help us grasp the political within other pieces of art? In each case, manners of thinking concepts of the political, the mutual resistance of such concepts and their academic treatment, and the turn towards specific readings informed by those concepts converge.

The essays collected in “Thinking Resistances. Current Perspectives on Politics, Community, and Art“ engage with political phenomena in their interrelations with arts as well as with recent theoretical and philosophical perspectives on the very meaning of politics, the political, and community.

With contributions by Armen Avanessian, Friedrich Balke, Judith Butler, Simon Critchley, Anneka Esch-van Kan, Josef Früchtl, Andreas Hetzel, Jon McKenzie, Dieter Mersch, Chantal Mouffe, Maria Muhle, Nikolaus Müller-Schöll, Stephan Packard, Wim Peeters, Jacques Rancière, Juliane Rebentisch, Gabriel Rockhill, Frank Ruda and Philipp Schulte.