Performance & Identity

Goffman addresses that audiences judge performers with their impression. During the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem had gender, sex, and multi-racial community(black dominated). The African American dandies were performers to get involved and be part of the culture. They tried to convey their identity to the dominated white culture. During Harlem Renaissance, queers resided along with black community in Harlem which created many images for Harlem. The people of Harlem fought for their rights and evolved their fashion or “appearance” to become cultivated. The dominant white community was fascinated with Harlem and African American’s new look. In Page 201, Johnson reshaped the image of African Americans saying, “We have more heart, more soul; we are more responsive to emotional vibrations; we have a larger share of the gifts of laughter, music and song.” I was directly conveyed by this message that African American culture has its own identity and aesthetic. I think the reason because whole race cultures were segregated is because it is impossible for them to understand other race with  different skin ton and cultural background at first. It takes time to learn for them to understand the other community. Fashion is all about the time consuming. Johnson had concerns about African materiality not recognizing gender, sex, and race categories under the pressure of authenticity. Harlem has a content of social, psychological, and cultural attributes created by society. Audience being dominant white culture Harlem are the performers. I think it’s important for every audience to study a performer understanding its impressions so it he or she could accept the performer as part of his culture. Fashion is fixed to define the situation for those who observe an individual’s performance with regular functions.

This is the video filmed in 1935. Josephine Baker, an African American (later received a citizenship in France) had no identity before she moved to Paris for her career as an artist. She was raised working for a white family in United States and the community considered her as a monkey for her spiritual dance. Her performances were very successful in France and people welcome her as a community unlike to people in America treated to her. Baker was a modernist who performed herself for the identity.

Beyonce wore the famous “banana costume” that Baker wore often in her performances before at Fashion Rocks 2006 event


About eunyoungcho

Fashion Studies - Parsons

One response to “Performance & Identity

  1. silvianicoletti

    I agree with this and find the whole concept of performance and its acceptance to be very interesting. Until we watched the video in class I never realized exactly how much of our daily lives are a contribution to performance. From the very moment in which a person wakes up and applies make up on their face and dresses in a certain way, they are preparing for an act that they may not realize exists. Our whole interaction with others is consumed by actions within performance which lead others to know what roles to play, how to interact with one another, and what to assume about you as an individual right off the bat through your material appearance.
    When someone begins to act out such simple things such as becoming a “business man” or an “executive” it really puts things in perspective for the viewer. One begins to realize exactly how vulnerable our society would be without these daily performances and the chaos we might find ourselves if we didnt have identity tags along with what we wear. On another side though, it seems like it has become such a routine to apply a layer of “who you are” for the public to see every morning that it would be impossible to know what it would be like NOT to perform. In the end, the action is so great that all of us believe our own performance. It is who we want to be, and who we extend ourselves to be outside of the safety of our homes.

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