The article explores the potential “healing” role performance art can have when representing disabling trauma, and engaging, as part of the creative process, participants who have experienced in their lives significant trauma and physical, as well as mental health concerns arising from gender violence. It focuses on the show cicatrix macula, performed during the exhibition Speaking Out: Women Healing from the Trauma of Violence (Leicester, 2014). The exhibition involved disabled visual and creative artists, and engaged participants in the process of performance making. It was held at the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester (UK), a pioneering arts centre designed to be inclusive and accessible. The show cicatrix macula focused on social, cultural, mental, and physical representations of trauma and disability, using three lacerated life-size puppets to illustrate these depictions. Working under the direction of the audience, two artists attempted to “repair” the bodies. The creative process was a collaborative endeavour: the decision-making process rested with the audience, whose privileged positions of witness and meaning-maker were underscored. Fayard demonstrates the significance of cicatrix macula in debunking ablist gender norms, as well as in highlighting the role played by social and cultural enablers. She calls attention to its potential for mobilizing positive identity politics, including for viewers who had experienced trauma. For example, the environment of the participatory performance space offered some opportunities for the survivor to become the author or arbiter of her own recovery. In addition, the constant physical exchange of bodies within this space of debate was well-suited to the (re)connection with the self and with others.
gender violence, performance art, disability, trauma, identity politics
Barnes, Colin. “A Legacy of Oppression: A History of Disability in Western Culture.” Disability Studies: Past, Present and Future. Ed. Len Barton and Michael Oliver. Leeds: Disability, 1997. 3–24. Print.
Barnes, Colin. Cabbage Syndrome: The Social Construction of Dependency. London: Faber, 1990. Print.
Barrett, Kirsten A., et al. “Intimate Partner Violence, Health Status, and Health Care Access among Women with Disabilities.” Women’s Health Issues 19.2 (2009): n. pag. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
Barton, Len, ed. Disability and Society: Emerging Issues and Insights. London: Longman, 1996. Print.
Boltanski, Luc. Distant Suffering: Morality, Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. Print.
Borsay, Anne. “Personal Trouble or Public Issue.” Disability Studies: Past, Present and Future. Ed. Len Barton and Michael Oliver. Leeds: Disability, 1997. 115–37. Print.
Bracken, Patrick, and Christopher Petty, eds. Rethinking the Trauma of War. London: Free Association, 1998. Print.
Braidotti, Rosi. “Affirming the Affirmative: On Nomadic Affectivity.” Rhizomes 11/12 (2006): n. pag. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.
Burke, Donncha, et al., eds. Family Resources Survey 2013/14. Department for Work and Pensions 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Campbell, Jacquelyn C. “Health Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence.” The Lancet 359.9314 (2002): 1331–36. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.
Carden-Coyne, Ana. “Ghosts in the War Museum.” Re-presenting Disability. Activism and Agency in the Museum. Ed. Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. Abingdon: Routledge, 2010. 64–78. Print.
Cattalini, Helen. Access to Services for Women with Disabilities who Are Subjected to Violence. Canberra: AGPS, 1993. Print.
Coombes, Annie. History after Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits UP, 2003. Print.
Crow, Liz. “Renewing the Social Model of Disability.” Coalition (Jul. 1992): 5–9. Print.
Dockerty, Colleen, Justin Varney, and Rachel Jay-Webster. “Disability and Domestic Abuse. Risks, Impacts and Response.” Public Health England (Nov. 2015): 1–25. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.
Dodd, Jocelyn, et al. Buried in the Footnotes: The Representation of Disabled People in Museums and Gallery Collections. Leicester: Research Centre for Museums and Galleries/ U of Leicester Research Archive, 2004. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Edgerton, Robert. The Cloak of Competence: Stigma in the Lives of the Mentally Retarded. Berkeley: U of California P, 1967. Print.
Fawcett, Barbara. Theorising Postmodern Feminism and Disability: A Qualitative and Deconstructive Study of Disability amongst Disabled People. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1999. Print.
Fayard, Nicole. “‘Faire parler ces femmes, [ . . . ] les libérer. Parce que dans les quartiers, on ne dit rien:’ Alienation, Sexual Violence and Textual Survival in the Work of Jamila Aït-Abbas, Samira Bellil, Leila and Loubna Méliane.” Alienation and Alterity: Otherness in Modern and Contemporary Francophone Contexts. Ed. Helen Vassalo and Paul Cooke. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009. 181–200. Print.
Fayard, Nicole. “Rape, Trauma and Shame in Samira Bellil’s Dans l’enfer des tournantes.” The Female Face of Shame. Ed. Erica Jonson and Patricia Moran. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. 34–47. Print.
Fayard, Nicole. Speaking Out. Women Healing from the Trauma of Violence. Leicester: U of Leicester P, 2014. Print.
Flax, Jane. “The End of Innocence.” Feminists Theorize the Political. Ed. Judith Butler and Joan Scott. London: Routledge, 1992. 445–63. Print.
Fook, Jan. “Deconstructing and Reconstructing Professional Expertise.” Researching and Practising in Social Work: Postmodern Feminist Perspectives. Ed. Barbara Fawcett et al. London: Routledge, 1999. 104–19. Print.
French, Sally. “Disability, Impairment, or Something in Between.” Disabling Barriers—Enabling Environments. Ed. John Swain et al. London: Sage, 2014. 17–25. Print.
Hague, Gill, et al., eds. Making the Links Disabled Women and Domestic Violence Final Report. 2008. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.
Herman, Judith. Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic, 1992. Print.
Hughes, Rachel. “Nationalism and Memory at the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide Crimes, Cambodia.” Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory. Ed. Katharine Hodgkin and Susannah Radstone. London: Routledge, 2003. 175–92. Print.
Humphreys, Cathy, and Stephen Joseph. “Domestic Violence and the Politics of Trauma.” Women’s Studies International Forum 27.5–6 (2004): 559–70. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Kudlick, Catherine. “Disability History: Why We Need Another ‘Other.’” American Historical Review 108.3 (2003): 763–93. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Mays, Jennifer. “Feminist Disability Theory: Domestic Violence against Women with a Disability.” Disablity & Society 21.2 (2006): 147–58. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Mezey, Gillian, et al. “Domestic Violence, Lifetime Trauma and Psychological Health of Childbearing Women.” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 112 (2005): 197–204. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
Nosek, Margaret, et al. “Abuse of Women with Disabilities: Policy Implications.” Journal of Disability Policy Studies 8 (1997): 157–76. Print.
Nosek, Margaret, et al.“Disability, Psychosocial, and Demographic Characteristics of Abused Women with Physical Disabilities.” Violence Against Women 12.9 (2006): 838–50. Print.
Oliver, Michael. Social Work with Disabled People. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1983. Print.
Oliver, Michael. The Politics of Disablement. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990. Print.
Oliver, Michael. Understanding Disability: From Theory to Practice. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996. Print.
Pearson, Chris, Nicola Harwin, and Marianne Hester, eds. Making an Impact: Children and Domestic Violence. A Reader. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2007. Print.
Plummer, Sara-Beth, and Patricia Findley. “Women with Disabilities’ Experience with Physical and Sexual Abuse: A Review of the Literature and Implications for the Field.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 13.1 (2012): 15–29. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Rossiter, Amy, Issac Prilleltensky, and Richard Walsh-Bowers. “A Postmodern Perspective on Professional Ethics.” Researching and Practising in Social Work: Postmodern Feminist Perspectives. Ed. Barbara Fawcett et al. London: Routledge, 1999. 83–103. Print.
Sandell, Richard, and Jocelyn Dodd. “Activist Practice.” Re-presenting Disability. Activism and Agency in the Museum. Ed. Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. Abingdon: Routledge, 2010. 1–22. Print.
Shakespeare, Tom. Disability Rights and Wrongs. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Shakespeare, Tom, and Nicholas Watson. “The Social Model of Disability: An Outdated Ideology?” Exploring Theories and Expanding Methodologies: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go. Ed. Sharon N. Barnartt and Barbara M. Altman. Amsterdam: JAI, 2002. 2–28. Print.
Shildrick, Margrit. Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Subjectivity and Sexuality. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.
Silverman, Lois. “The Therapeutic Potential of Museums as Pathways to Inclusion.” Museums, Society, Inequality. Ed. Richard Sandell. London: Routledge, 2002. 69–83. Print.
Stanley, Liz, and Sue Wise. Breaking Out Again: Feminist Ontology and Epistemology. London: Routledge, 1993. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
Stone, Philip. “A Dark Tourism Spectrum: Towards a Typology of Death and Macabre Related Tourist Sites, Attractions and Exhibitions.” Tourism: An Interdisciplinary International Journal 52.2 (2006): 145– 60. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
Stuckey, Heather, and Jeremy Nobel. “The Connection between Art, Healing and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature.” American Journal of Public Health 100.2 (2010): 254–63. Web. 11 Jun. 2016.
Summerfield, Derek. “Effects of War: Moral Knowledge, Revenge, Reconciliation, and Medicalised Concepts of ‘Recovery.’” British Medical Journal 322 (2002): 95–98. Print.
Swain, John, et al., eds. Disabling Barriers—Enabling Environments. London: Sage, 2014. Print.
The Nia Project. Double Oppression: Violence against Disabled Women. 2008. Web. 11 Jun. 2012.
Thomas, Carol. Female Forms: Experiencing and Understanding Disability. Buckingham: Open UP, 1999. Print.
Thomas, Carol. “How is Disability Understood? An Examination of Sociological Approaches.” Disability & Society 19.6 (2004): 569–83. Print.
Thomas, Carol. Sociologies of Disability and Illness: Contested Ideas in Disability Studies and Medical Sociology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print.
Thomas, Carol. “Theorising Disability and Chronic Illness: Where Next for Perspectives in Medical Sociology?” Social Theory & Health 10.3 (2012): 209–28. Print.
Walmsley, Jan. “Including People with Learning Difficulties: Theory and Practice.” Disability Studies: Past, Present and Future. Ed. Len Barton and Michael Oliver. Leeds: Disability, 1997. 82–77. Print.
Williams, Paul. Memorial Museums: The Global Rush to Commemorate Atrocities. Munich: Prestel-Verlag/New York Jewish Museum, 2007. Print.
Wisconsin Coalition against Sexual Assault. “People with Disabilities and Sexual Assault.” 2011. Web. 10 May 2016.
Zelizer, Barbie. Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera’s Eye. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1998. Print.