Interview with Holly Hughes, conducted by Diana Taylor, founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. This interview is a part of a series curated by the Hemispheric Institute, articulated around the question 'What is Performance Studies?' The series aims to provide a multifaceted approach to the often difficult task of defining the coordinates of both a field of academic study as well as a lens through which to assess and document cultural practice and embodied behavior. The contingent definitions documented in this series are based on the groundbreaking experiences and the scholarly endeavors of renowned figures in contemporary performance studies and practice.
Holly Hughes is an internationally acclaimed performance artist with a flair for telling outrageous stories of everyday lesbian life, touching off controversy and challenging complacency at every turn. Her combination of poetic imagery and political satire has earned her wide attention and placed her work at the center of America's culture wars. Hughes is Associate Professor of the School of Art & Design and the Department of Theatre and Drama at the University of Michigan and an activist for lesbian issues. In fall 2008, she was visiting associate professor of Performance Studies and Gender Studies at Northwestern University.
Professor Hughes is the recipient of two Village Voice Obie awards, a Lambda Book Award, a GLAAD media award, and a Distinguished Alumni Award. Hughes has performed at venues across North America, Great Britain and Australia. She has published two books: Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler (Grove Press 1996); and O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance(Grove Press 1998), co-edited with Dr. David Roman. In addition, her work has been widely anthologized and has served as foundational material for performance studies, queer studies and feminist performance studies. In addition to teaching at the University of Michigan, Hughes is co-editing Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café, with Alina Troyano for the University of Michigan Press, and is creating a new solo piece entitled The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony).