An Exploration of Agency, Embodiment and Theatricality in Violet Chachki’s Gestural Costuming
The popular and rapid dissemination of depictions of drag in social media platforms such as Pinterest and Facebook give the social media user the impression of an integrated and normalized culture that lives harmoniously with a still-dominating heteronormative ideology. While TV shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race professes to be an agent of change, it simultaneously reinforces heteronormative models.
This paper argues that such complexed and holistic representations of drag render the body into a costume that acquires agency when becoming a theatrical representation of idealistic depictions of gender. This agency, I argue, is not generated through the representation of gender that garments traditionally provide, but through manipulations of the body such as suppression or amplification. The observer closes the circle as it finishes the process of activation through spectating. Using RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Violet Chachki’s online presence on Pinterest as a case study, I am exploring the body through the lens of costume studies.
Drawing from Carrie Noland’s work that examines human agency and from Paul Frosh’s examination of images online as a gestural image, this paper explores agency through the examination of the body as an immaterial entity that is considered here as a theatrical conceit. This paper examines the concept of agency against two theoretical considerations: embodiment and theatricality.
Jorge Sandoval is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. He is currently the Course Leader of the BA (Hons) in Costume for Performance at The London College of Fashion at the University of Arts London, an adjunct Professor with the Drama Department at The University of Lethbridge, in Canada, and he is finishing his Doctoral dissertation at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Jorge teaches and designs as well as being active in research with the research group Costume in Focus at Aalto University. He has designed costumes for productions commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada, Ballet Kelowna and Ballet Mannheim, and the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts. His published work focuses on masculinities, drag and theatrical costume within the ambit of the everyday.