As feminist film theory has made clear, representational visibility has psychic and political limitations. Simply being in the public eye does not guarantee access to power. Still, among the Left and within the field of cultural/performance studies, there is an almost ubiquitous assumption that visibility is a crucial aspect of progressive struggle. In "Unmarked," Peggy Phelan looks at the relation between political and representational visibility within both the mainstream and the avant-garde. Phelan examines the limitations of visibility politics, suggesting that there may be political power inherent in "disappearance" from the visual field.
"Unmarked" is a controversial study of the politics of performance, employing the emerging theories of psychoanalysis, feminism and cultural studies to examine an unusually broad conception of what Phelan considers performance; she cites examples from photography, film, theatre, anti-abortion demonstrations and performance art in her arguments. A boldly speculative analysis of contemporary culture, "Unmarked" is of interest to performance theorists, cultural studies scholars, art critics and enthusiasts, intellectuals and activists.
"Phelan's explorations are grounded in . . . trenchant readings of specific artworks and events."
-Alisa Solomon "The Women's Review of Books