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Making a spectacle out of herself - Bobby Baker's take a peek!

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/2004
JournalEuropean journal of womens studies
Journal number3
Volume11
Number of pages18
Pages277-294
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Drawing on Mary Russo's theorization of 'female grotesques', this article analyses Take a Peek! - a circus, fairground-styled 'freak' show by British performance artist, Bobby Baker. While making a display of or a spectacle out of herself can be argued for all of Baker's work, Take a Peek!, the third show in her 'Daily Life' series, is especially concerned with 'woman' on display. The article argues that in Take a Peek! Baker turns herself into a 'spectacular' demonstration of 'failed' femininity in a way that constitutes a site/sight of feminist critical 'work'. The analysis proceeds by detailing the various ways in which Baker realizes her performance through strategies that serve to grotesque the feminine and figure an archaic maternal, the sorceress and the hysteric. In conclusion, Baker's invitation to laugh at the grotesquing of her own body is proposed as a means of empowering those who look, to look differently at the ideas and 'ideals' that shape the feminine in contemporary cultural and social systems, and to expose the symbolic feminine for what it truly is - a freak show.