Penetrating spaces: a social semiotic, multimodal analysis of performance as rape prevention

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Semiotics, 2016, 26 (4), pp. 445 - 463
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Penetrating spaces examines how movement is used as a semiotic resource to transform the meaning potential of the installation space Spreading the Love. This transformation underscores the rewriting of the script of rape, a scripted interaction that draws upon, yet also creates, social configurations of sexuality and gender. Being a “script”, it can be rewritten, or transformed, by playing socially constructed roles differently. Drawing on performance studies theory and adopting a multimodal, social semiotic and metafunctional approach, we suggest that movement of the participants in relation to the installation and of the performance itself to different venues changes the organizational, interactional, and representational meanings of the installation, and that these changes transform the script of rape. Organizationally, participants move from one location to another so that marginalized voices become central to the destabilization of the script of rape. Interactionally, the dialogic nature of the installation enables members of the public to become the authoritative voice, “rewriting” new scripts that assert ethical relationships. Representationally, we examine how spectators can transform themselves into performers, thereby questioning the conventional participatory roles in the script of rape.
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