Couple in the cage (master & counter narratives)

We are now beginning to consider how the performance Couple in the Cage stages the Civilized/Savage binary in order to question, challenge and deconstruct this binary, especially in the ways the binary functions in society to:

1.) reproduce other binary assumptions (human/animal, whiteness/blackness, us/them, mind/body, rationalism/emotion) and

2.) reduce our ability to think critically about the world we live in and the relations of oppression that we perpetuate, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unknowingly, through our assumptions, beliefs and behaviors.

We will now consider the ways Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pena’s performance “Couple in the Cage” plays with a culturally coded and rehearsed (i.e. embodied and enacted) system of representation that is deeply embedded in Western thought (consider our Traffic Light activity as another example of a system of representation with rules we learn to embody as habitual responses/restored behaviors – pushing on the gas pedal, pressing the car brake, etc.).

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A compelling question Fusco and Peña’s performance-as-research project asks:

How does the Civilized/Savage binary continue to shape the contemporary Western imagination?

1.) WRITE a 350-400 word reflection, addressing the following questions (doesn’t have to be in any specific order).

PROMPT: How does the performance Couple in the Cage perform the two intertwined master narratives of Manifest Destiny/American Progress and Discovery of the New World?

a.) Explain how the CAGE functions as an embodied and rehearsed system of representation. How does the CAGE represent and play on the primary binary power relation of Civilized/Savage? Give a few examples of specific evidence (restored behaviors or gestures, use of language, props, costumes, set design, etc.) that Fusco and Peña intentionally choose to stage through performance that play into the binary.

c.) How does the CAGE continue to show up in our current social-political landscape of the United States? Give specific examples of the CAGE in contemporary U.S. society–which specific groups within society are impacted? what counter-narratives are available to social groups who experience oppression?  

d.) In your opinion, what is the efficacy of “Couple in the Cage”? What does the performance do in the world? Does the performance create change? Why or why not? 

You should cite the readings and draw on your responses from assignments (3a) and (3b) of this module.

Give specific and detailed EVIDENCE from the Couple in the Cage performance to clarify your ideas and points!

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