Trans/actions: art, film and death
Trans/actions: Art, Film and Death explore the representation of art, artists and art history in film through two primary questions. The first: why are there so many representations of stereotypical mad artists, particularly psychopathic killers and suicidal artists in film when there are so few clearly documented cases of such artists within the history of art? And the second question, with two components: is there a political meaning that is able to be assigned to the proliferation of such films in contemporary society, and what does this say about the producers of such material and the consuming interest in art, death, and crime, of the cinema going public? Employing Jacques Derrida's "four times around" deconstructive process, the author takes the philosophical injunction to explore the surrounds and approaches to his chosen subjects -- the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Roger Corman, Tim Burton, Peter Greenaway, among others -- paying specific attention to "the work, frame, passé partout (key), title, signature, museum, archive, discourse, marketplace -- in short, wherever there is legislation by marking of the limit" (Derrida, 1987). Each of the chapters move beyond the two original questions and their related components, across and through - trans/acting - various theoretical, historical and critical fields into specific domains of philosophical and political enquiry; for example, the question of the other in the construction of social stereotypes, and the political and libidinal economy of various types of humour: parody, irony and satire. Employing the post-Freudian phantasmatic models developed by Giorgio Agamben, the author discusses the historical construction of various stereotypes for artists, particularly the manner in which these have been ideologically inscribed into the cultural dominant, and thereby become available for reproduction, both in terms of artist's presentation of self in everyday life, and also in terms of cultural representations within the domains of mass and popular culture, specifically cinema. Bruce Barber is an interdisciplinary artist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he directs the MFA Program at NSCAD University. He is the research coordinator at the European Graduate School, EGS and the editor of Essays on Performance and Cultural Politicization; Conceptual Art: the NSCAD Connection 1967-1973. Co-editor, with Guilbaut, S., and O'Brian J., Voices of Fire: Art Rage, Power and the State. Editor, Condé + Beveridge: Class Works (2008); author of Performance [Performance] and Performers: Essays and Conversations edited by Marc Léger (2008).