Authors Name: 
Stephen Quinn
University: 
Trinity College, University of Dublin
Category: 
Music, Film & Theater
Award winner

Performing Beyond Postmodernity: Taylor Mac and the Queer Metamodern

Since the advent of academic performance studies in the latter decades of the twentieth century, criticism pertaining to queer performance practice has predominantly employed postmodern analytical strategies. Departing from (but still in dialogue with) this trend, this essay explores critical strategies beyond the postmodern – i.e. the metamodern – in its assessment of queer theatre/performance artist Taylor Mac. A theoretical basis for the transition from postmodern to metamodern, concurrent with the development of queer discourse, is both outlined and then employed to demonstrate metamodern discursive strategies within specific performance events presented by Mac. The author argues that the assertion of emotional sincerity, beyond postmodern irony, in Mac’s performance practice allows audience members a level of emotional engagement that is simultaneously aware of Mac’s performative employment of camp or queer theatricality. This assessment is further developed to suggest that Mac’s work is therefore metamodern, insofar as it oscillates between irony and sincerity; the knowing and the naïve; camp and earnest emotional affect.