Dustin Vance MFA LRVS Thesis 2017

Baldwin, Butler, & Beyoncé: Reperforming the Racial Scenario in the Post-Soul South

Art is often said to mimic life. Perhaps this is due to the highly visual nature of the human experience. Unsurprisingly, it is art to which we often look when all other attempts at understanding life fail. Thus, when challenged to reconcile with my experience of race in America and, more specifically, The South, it seems only fitting to utilize Art as a method to respond.

Using a sequential, three-part structure – “Stage,” “Players,” and “Scene” – this thesis attempts to engage in a critical dialogue with racial phenomenology in the American South. In “Stage,” an investigation of the sociological, historical, and political aspects of race serves to redefine race as a system of design rather than a product of biology, while simultaneously delineating place as a factor in the constitution of racial identity. “Players” furthers that line of reasoning by extending race into the realm of performativity theory in order to establish the mutability of racial identity and to decenter traditional signifiers of race. Lastly, “Scene” proposes the utilization of collaborative social performance to activate the scenario of race in The South. This creates the potential for reversal and or parody of this paradigm through the scenario’s performatic apparatus, ultimately allowing for the artistic aestheticization of the racial system.

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MFA in Visual Studies Thesis Works