Uncontrollable Materialities: Experimental Poetry and the Body in Performance Michel Delville Download

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Uncontrollable Materialities:
Experimental Poetry and the Body in Performance
Michel Delville
(University of Liège; CIPA)
This paper examines the importance of food as a pivotal element – both materially and
metaphorically – in the recent history of the American avant-garde. The performance
poets/artists discussed here explore the conjunction of art and foodstuff in ways that
encourage a reappraisal of contemporary notions of the body, language and subjectivity. In
the works of Eleanor Antin, Carolee Schneeman, Karen Finley, Alicia Rios and others, the
manipulation and consumption of food develops both as a destabilizing and a liberating
element in a process that describes and complicates the relationship between diet and
discourse. As the mouth that speaks becomes the mouth that eats and participates actively in
the dialectics of projection and introjection, the “embouchured” self brings about a continuous
alteration of the distinction between self and world, production and consumption. Detailed
and extended discussion of specific texts and performances reveal these artists’ attempts to
describe the avatars of a lyric self caught in a process that brings about a continuous alteration
of the distinction between body and world, diet and discourse, self and matter, inside and
outside, between what is I and what is not (or no-longer or not-yet) I.
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