Laurel McLaughlin, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History of Art, was awarded a Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art for her project, (Un)Bound: Towards a Contemporary Migratory Aesthetics of Performance in the United States by Womxn-Identifying Practitioners, 1970–2016.
Abstract: “(Un)Bound” argues that performance artists Ana Mendieta, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Adrian Piper employed ritual performative strategies that disclosed their specific migratory journeys, thereby constructing liminal and resilient identities in the United States. These 1970s techniques persisted and transformed between the 1980s and 2010s in performances by artists and collectives such as Urban Bush Women, Spiderwoman Theater, Shirin Neshat, Coco Fusco, Tania Bruguera, and Tania El Khoury. Drawing upon diverse media and documentation, such as performance art, theater, dance, video, and pedagogical forms in associative case studies of select works, this dissertation analyzes the affective and geo-political dimensions of such rituals shaped by migration—movement, memory, heterochrony, and contact—and theorizes “performative migratory aesthetics,” which alternatively constitutes identity construction.
Laurel's doctoral adviser is Professor of History of Art Homay King. She has presented research at the University of California-Berkeley, the College Art Association (New York), Performance Studies International (Calgary), and the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (Hong Kong). Additionally, Laurel has held curatorial fellowships and assistant positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Slought Foundation, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the ICA Philadelphia. She received a B.A. from Wake Forest University in Art History and English as a Presidential Scholar in 2013, an M.A. with Distinction from The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2015, and an M.A. from Bryn Mawr College in 2017.