Performing the Queer Past: Public Possessions (Hardcover)
'Tender and rigorous, this book invites readers to linger with difficult pasts and consider how best to grasp their hauntings, demands and manifestations in the present. This is a book about mourning as well as holding, a simultaneous act of exhumation and a laying to rest.'
anna six, author of Madness, Art, and Society: Beyond Illness
Noreen Giffney, psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author of The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis Why do contemporary queer theatre and performance appear to be possessed by the past? What aesthetic practices and dramaturgical devices reveal the occupation of the present by painful history? How might the experience of theatre and performance relieve the present of its most arduous burdens? Following recent legislation and cultural initiatives across many Western countries hailed as confirming the darkest days for LGBTQ+ people were over, this book turns our attention to artists fixed on history's enduring harm. Guiding us through an eclectic range of examples including theatre, performance, installation and digital practices, Fintan Walsh explores how this work reckons with complex cultural and personal histories. Among the issues confronted are the incarceration of Oscar Wilde, the Holocaust, racial and sexual objectification, the AIDS crisis and Covid-19, alongside more local and individual experiences of violence, trauma and grief. Walsh traces how the queer past is summoned and interrogated via what he elaborates as the aesthetics and dramaturgies of possession, which lend form to the still-stinging aches and generative potential of injury, injustice and loss. These strategies expose how the past continues to haunt and disturb the present, while calling on those of us who feel its force to respond to history's unresolved hurt.