Performing Visuality

Conveners: Jill Lane and Nicholas Mirzoeff

Artists and practitioners have long crossed the boundaries between performance and the visual arts and culture, particularly through the long history of performance and installation art. Scholars, however, have only recently begun to reflect on the overlapping and comparable emergence of performance studies and visual studies within the academy. Both fields have drawn on aesthetic, political and social theory to study how visual and embodied culture participate in a range of social contexts—including popular culture, religion, politics, and art. Both tend to ask what performance and the visual do in those contexts—how they maintain, disrupt, or change the norms of public spheres. For both visual culture and performance studies, the object of inquiry is the event.

This work group aims to illuminate shared methods and concerns with a particular focus on the production of hope and futurity, understood as products of complex temporality. Visuality as a discursive practice has long been concerned with the visualizing of history, while memory has played a central role in performance studies. If rights are claimed precisely because they not held, how can rights claims be performed and made visible? Can performing visuality express, extend, or contest discourses of the future? What, to adapt a phrase from Jacques Rancière, is the future of visuality and for whom? How can the inflection on what Andreas Huyssen has called the "past present" be altered to the "present future" and what role does the discourse of "hope" play in that process? What pasts have be recalled to re-imagine the future?


Jill Lane is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University, editor with Marcial Godoy-Anativia of e-misférica, and author of Blackface Cuba, 1840–1895 (2005).

Nicholas Mirzoeff is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of Watching Babylon: The War in Iraq and Global Visual Culture (2005) and An introduction to Visual Culture: Second Edition (2009).


Alice Joan Saab
Brian Goldfarb
Carla Melo
Cindy Bello
Elaine Peña
Esther Gabara
Jennifer Cayer
Jill Lane
Kaitlin McNally-Murphy
Laura Vargas
Marta Cabrera
Nicholas Mirzoeff