Joe Goode on “Gender in Translation”

Joe Goode
is a choreographer, writer, and director widely known as an innovator in the field of dance for his willingness to collide movement with spoken word, song, and visual imagery.Goode is known as a master teacher; his summer workshops in “felt performance” attract participants from around the world, and the company’s teaching residencies on tour are hugely popular. He is a member of the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in the department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

The Joe Goode Performance Group will be presenting “Nobody Lives Here Now” at the Festival du Haut Limousin, Ferme de Villefavard, from August 11th, 2016 to August 14th, 2016.

-> What triggered your interest in Gender Studies?

I have the rather unique position of working in the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley as a practicing artist. I am not a performance studies scholar and have not investigated gender studies thoroughly enough to make a comparison between the French and the American approaches. I think the only reason I know about gender studies is because of a piece that I created twenty-five years ago, called 29 Effeminate Gestures. This performance work has been written about and studied in various gender studies programs around the United States and perhaps to some lesser degree abroad. I feel honored to be a part of the discussion, as I do think my work, then and now, is concerned with gender and how it is perceived by the self and others. But I confess that my interest in the subject is more from the perspective of how we embody gender. The nuances and the contradictions of that interest me. I have not written on this subject, nor do I publish in scholarly journals, etc., so I’m not sure that I have a great deal to contribute to this conversation.

-> Does your research in the field of Gender Studies bear a civic and/or political engagement? Is this an important aspect for you?

I think that making art is, almost without trying, a form of social commentary. Through the act of making something, the choices that are involved in that, one is necessarily revealing one’s lens on the world. Because I’m often, in my work, thinking about the differently gendered body I am clearly offering a perspective. I am not much in favor of placard art that states its point of view in an easy slogan or the popular political sentiment of the moment. But I think the questions that I’m asking in my work are meant on some level to be disruptive of the assumed standards that are placed on gender.

-> As a scholar/artist/thinker/curator/…, what does the title “Gender in Translation” evoke for you?

Clearly Judith Butler started us all down a path of discovery when she introduced the idea of “constructing” gender. It seems to me in this moment we are becoming aware of so many elements within that construct that some deciphering or translation or rumination is essential. I’m not so sure for myself if care deeply about the differences in approach of the French and American scholars, but I am interested in the fact that there are so many layers to this issue and so many ways of peeking into it.




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