ASTR Working Group
I apologize for cross-listings. If you are planning to attend ASTR, please consider this working group:
About Face: The Material History of Difference in Stage Makeup and Masks
Jane Barnette, University of Kansas
Esther Kim Lee, University of Maryland
Martine Kei Green-Rogers, SUNY New Paltz
The performer’s face is at the root of our perceptions and performances of difference. Extant stage makeup manuals feature tutorials on how to use cosmetics to change one’s appearance, including one’s age, race, and gender (or even species). Partial and full masks provide another way to transform the actor’s face into various others, as a technology of performing difference. This working session explores the use of makeup in the construction and maintenance of difference, broadly conceived. We will consider makeup, including cosmetics, prosthetics, and special effects makeup from both historical and contemporary perspectives. We welcome contributions about the material history of a wide variety of stage makeup, which can extend to include hair and those elements of costume that highlight the face.
This working session explores the use of makeup in the construction and maintenance of difference, broadly conceived. We will consider makeup, including cosmetics, prosthetics, and special effects makeup from both historical and contemporary perspectives. What assumptions about otherness does the use of makeup imply? In what ways does makeup reflect the perception of ordinary and extraordinary, and in what ways does it participate in shaping those perceptions? How, for example, do makeup manuals and product guides draw on and perpetuate social norms of age, race, class, and gender? Participants might address questions related to the following:
What does the material history of stage makeup tell us about how bodies are perceived and represented?
How does the focus on the face within the field of stage makeup (design and technique) contribute to larger conversations about “extraordinary bodies” and freaks?
How do makeup objects (manuals, tools, cosmetic colors and formulations, etc.) reveal users' biases about faces and bodies, and how are those biases materially linked to the cultures of design and production of that particular moment in history?
In this working group, our primary interest is in projects that engage in the material practice of makeup and mask-making. We will also consider papers on fashion/editorial makeup. What does the use of paint and powder conceal and reveal? We are particularly interested in how makeup has been used to transform performers into non-human characters, “freaks,” “ugly ducklings,” and racial Others onstage and in the performance of everyday life. Do these representations presume that the face is in some ways a static object that can be framed by a narrative for the audience, but overlook the considerable technology, artistry, and biases that shape that perception, which starts with facial recognition? Even in repose, through cosmetics the face is always already performing.
Before the conference, participants will share critical reflections (2500 words maximum) via our shared private wiki. Each participant will then pose questions for at least two colleagues from the seminar, with the goal of elucidating the crucial elements of each colleague’s project: its context, its execution, and its potential contribution to the conversation. Following a dialogue occasioned by these questions, each member of the working group will post one artifact (photo of made-up face, technical diagram, mask, video, makeup tool or product, etc.) to the wiki; participants will review all posted artifacts as their final step of preparation. The two hours we share at the conference itself will be our opportunity to share insights about connections and provocations across projects, and to brainstorm the next steps for the participants who want to continue these conversations.
For any specific questions, please contact the working group convenors at email@example.com.
Please note that all submissions must be received formally through the ASTR website here (http://www.astr.org/?page=17_WorkingSessions). The form will allow you to indicate second and third choice working groups if you wish; if you do so, note that there is a space for you to indicate how your work will fit into those groups. The deadline for receipt of working group proposals is 1 June 2017 and we anticipate that participants will be notified of their acceptance no later than 30 June. Please contact the conference organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the process.
Last edited Wednesday, May 17, 2017