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Wafaa Bilal’s Domestic Tension: A politics of performance in gamic space


Wafaa Bilal’s Domestic Tension: A politics of performance in gamic space

van Sertima, Adam (2011) Wafaa Bilal’s Domestic Tension: A politics of performance in gamic space. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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VanSertima_MA_S2011.pdf - Accepted Version


I argue that considering the performance, the artist and the elements of the performance– in this case, a robotic paintball gun– as boundary objects sets the stage for a political strategy that reaches across demographic and ideological lines in politically charged art. This thesis is anchored in a close reading of the video blogs that Wafaa Bilal posted as an ongoing diary during the 31 day performance Domestic Tension (2007) and considers the use of boundary objects as means to create social space in performance artwork. This consideration is contextualised through other artworks using similar themes of violence in the social and political contexts in which they occurred. The two most specific examples discussed are Francisco Goya’s painting The Executions of the Third of May, 1808 (1814 Oil on canvas) and Chris Burdon’s infamous performance and subsequent film “Shoot!”. This strategy is predicated on granting a form of agency to art objects. The theoretical underpinnings of this analysis are found in the work of Anthropologist Alfred Gell, Sociologists Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and John Law and the work of Susan Leigh Star and James R. Griesemer. I suggest that one of the effects of granting agency to non-human actors (actants) is that it creates fluid spaces, especially in the context of performances that resemble digital games. This allows us to contextualise digital games both historically vis-a-vis similar themes in other media, and better analyze the activation of art works, especially performative ones, in our currently internet connected age.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:van Sertima, Adam
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Thesis Supervisor(s):Bélisle, Jean
Keywords:Digital games, video games, performance art, Wafaa Bilal, boundary objects, actor-network theory, cyberspace, internet art
ID Code:7309
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 14:50
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:30
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