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Disability, public space performance and spectatorship: unconscious performers

Disability, public space performance and spectatorship: unconscious performers

Hadley, Bree, author

In 'Disability, Public Space Performance and Spectatorship', Bree Hadley examines the performance practices of disabled artists in the US, UK, Europe and Australasia who re-engage, re-enact and re-envisage the stereotyping they are subject to in the very public spaces and places where this stereotyping typically plays out

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014
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Available: Online

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    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    2778542-1001 E-book Online Available


Statement of responsibility: Bree Hadley
ISBN: 1137396083, 9781137396082
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: ix, 210 pages : illustrations (black and white)
Subject: Disability: social aspects; Performance art.; Dance; Central / national / federal government policies; Plays, playscripts; Politics & government; Society & culture: general; Art and Design.; Cultural studies; History of art; Performing arts; Performance art; Artists with disabilities.; Installations (Art); Sociology; Theatre studies; Other performing arts
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781137396075


  1. Introduction
  2. Disability, Performance and the Public Sphere 1. Weebles, Mirages and Living Mirrors: The Ethics of Embarrassed Laughter2. Drug Deals, Samaritans and Suicides: Bodies on the Brink of the Visible3. 'That You Would Post Such a Thing.': Staging Spectatorship Online4. Same Difference?: Disability, Presence, Performance and EthicsConclusion
  3. (Dia)logics of Difference

Author note

Bree Hadley is Senior Lecturer in Performance Studies in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Her research investigates the construction of identity in contemporary, pop cultural and public space performance practices, concentrating particularly on the way spectators are positioned as co-performers in these practices.


Why would disabled people want to re-engage, re-enact and re-envisage the everyday encounters in public spaces and places that cast them as ugly, strange, stare-worthy? In Disability, Public Space Performance and Spectatorship: Unconscious Performers, Bree Hadley examines the performance practices of disabled artists in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australasia who do exactly this. Operating in a live or performance art paradigm, artists like James Cunningham (Australia), Noemi Lakmaier (UK/Austria), Alison Jones (UK), Aaron Williamson (UK), Katherine Araniello (UK), Bill Shannon (US), Back to Back Theatre (Australia), Rita Marcalo (UK), Liz Crow (UK) and Mat Fraser (UK) all use installation and public space performance practices to restage their disabled identities in risky, guerrilla-style works that remind passers-by of their own complicity in the daily social drama of disability. In doing so, they draw spectators' attention to their own role in constructing Western concepts of disability. This book investigates the way each of us can become unconscious performers in a daily social drama that positions people with disabilities as figures of tragedy, stigma or pity, and the aesthetics, politics and ethics of performance practices that intervene very directly in this drama. It constructs a framework for understanding the way spectators are positioned in these practices, and how they contribute to public sphere debates about disability today.


"Bree Hadley's study of disability performance and spectatorship marks a maturing of the field, a moment which takes stock of the interventions disabled performance artists make in public - and, more specifically, how they can help us redefine and rethink notions of the 'public sphere'. Through grounded and exciting case studies of installation, live art, public space interventions and online public arenas, Hadley shows the challenges disabled artists offer to a mainstream that still wishes to keep disability contained. This book will offer indispensable insights to social practice artists who create encounters as the basis of their art practice, to their critics and their involved observers." - Petra Kuppers, University of Michigan, USA