This article examines the role of pugilistic gesture and form in queer performance, focusing on Franko B’s Milk & Blood (2015) and Cassils’s Becoming an Image (2012). Walsh considers how pugilism functions as a mode for “working out” queer fights—personal and cultural—that offers us a performative complement or reverse-orientation to Sigmund Freud’s psychologically centered idea of “working-through” (1914). Reading these pugilistic performances along the slide between working through and working out—their psychic and material practices and effects—allows us to perceive the body as both the object of loss and trauma and, in practiced form, the key instrument of processing change. It compels us to keep the body at the center of debates of traumatic intervention and negotiation in queer studies and beyond, as the fighting bodies themselves appear to insist.
Pugilistic Queer Performance: Working Through and Working Out
Fintan Walsh is a reader in theatre and performance at Birkbeck, University of London; codirector of the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre; and director of Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS). His books include Queer Performance and Contemporary Ireland: Dissent and Disorientation (2016), Theatre & Therapy (2012), and Male Trouble: Masculinity and the Performance of Crisis (2010). His edited works include the recent Theatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance (2019). He is senior editor of the journal Theatre Research International.
Fintan Walsh; Pugilistic Queer Performance: Working Through and Working Out. GLQ 1 October 2020; 26 (4): 701–722. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-8618756
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