Spring 1993 • Vol. XV No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1993 |

A Cosmography of Herself: The Autobiology of Rachel Rosenthal

Nowhere more evocatively does performance art express the ecological condition of contemporary life at the end of the twentieth century than in the works of Rachel Rosenthal, elaborating as they do the polemics of harmony and chaos that so many seek to moderate in their lives and in the world around them. This antinomy is at the heart of her dramaturgy, and since performance art is primarily a solo form made on the body of the performer, it is, more significantly, a function of her physiology as a woman in her mid-sixties. What comes through in the performances of Rosenthal is her worldliness in the acceptance of natural history as a part of the history of the world and part of her history. Because performance art is not a tragic form, nor Rosenthal's nature tragic, comic irony is the mood of her all too human commedia. All of these themes come together like fibers of a nervous system in the kind of performances Rosenthal constructs around body, biology, and gender. She transval

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