I hold a PhD in Theatre Studies from Stockholm University (2007) and am Professor of Theatre Studies in the Department of Culture and Aesthetics. I was previously employed at the Department of Theatre at Concordia University in Montreal, the Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University and the Department of Gender, History and Culture at Södertörn University College. Currently, I am serving as Head of Research in Theatre Studies and as Director for the International Master's Programme in Performance Studies.
My current research, Circumpolar Performance Cultures, is a four-year project financed by the Swedish Research Council. It concentrates of the intersectional and decolonial labour performed by Giron Sámi Teáhter in Kiruna/Giron (Sweden).
My previous research projects have attended to post-war and contemporary queer theatre and performance from an international and intercultural perspective. I am the author of the academic monograph, Tennessee Williams in Sweden and France, 1945-1965 (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2019), which unpacks the sexual anxieties and racial fantasies that the American playwright’s works provoked in post-war Europe. My research project ‘Lest We Forget’ critically analyses the impact of HIV and AIDS on queer theatre and performance in Canada and Sweden. As part of this project, I have written numerous scholary articles and co-edited, with Dr Alyson Campbell, the volume Viral Dramaturgies: HIV and AIDS in Performance in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
To date, I have presented c. fifty conference papers and published over twenty referred journal articles and book chapters, including essays in Theatre Journal, Theatre Research International, Contemporary Theatre Review, Theatre Survey, Nordic Theatre Studies, Journal of Canadian Studies, Theatre Research in Canada, Journal of Homosexuality, The Tennessee Williams Annual Review and Fashion Theory. I am the co-editor of Mode: en tvärvetenskaplig betraktelse (Raster, 2009), a volume on fashion studies as an interdisciplinary discipline. I have also co-edited the volume Berätta, överleva, inte drunkna: antirasism, dekolonisering och migration i svensk scenkonst (Atlas, 2022), which is a pedagogical project that unites both theatre scholars and theatre practitioners to reflect on how the contemporary performing arts react to and oppose xenophobia and form part of a decolonising process. As former editor-in-chief of lambda nordica: Journal for LGBT-Studies I edited special issues on masculinities and queer fashion. I have also served as book review editor for Nordic Theatre Studies and alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage.
I have taught numerous courses in performance theories and methodologies, theatre history, cultural representations, gender theory and queer studies, performance activism, feminist and LGBTQ+ theatre, performance and performativity, sexual representations in the performing arts, fashion theory, Tennessee Williams, postcolonial and intercultural performance, and contemporary theatre and performance in Canada. I am supervising theses at the MA and PhD level and serve as director of the International Master's Programme in Performance Studies.
Circumpolar Performance Cultures: Transnational and Intercultural Perspectives on Contemporary Indigenous Performing Arts in Sweden, Canada and Greenland
My current research, Circumpolar Performance Cultures, is a four-year project financed by the Swedish Research Council. It concentrates of the intersectional and decolonial labour performed by three Indigenous ensembles – Giron Sámi Teáhter in Kiruna/Giron (Sweden), Nunatta Isiginnaartitsisarfia/The National Theatre of Greenland in Nuuk, and Qaggiavuut in Iqaluit, Nunavut (Canada). The project has two core aims. First, I plan to study processes of production and reception of selected historical and contemporary plays and performances by these Sami, Greenlandic and Inuit ensembles and analyse their artistic form and political content as well as their critical reception in order to demonstrate how performing artists in the Circumpolar North deal with the manifold legacies of colonialism. These include, but are not limited to: decolonization, reconciliation, healing, preservation of culture and traditions, preservation and promotion of languages, resistance to a colonizing gaze, global climate changes and the exploitation of land and natural resources, the need for positive and empowering self-representation, and the attempts to work through trauma and shame caused by anthropometric observations, forced assimilation, forced displacement and residential or nomadic schools. Additionally, these three ensembles also face a number of financial and administrative obstacles, hence why I will pay attention to organizational aspects such as the means to secure public funding, access to a permanent playhouse or performance space as well as outreach efforts to other circumpolar communities.
The selected ensembles and countries serve as representative (rather than as exhaustive) examples to expose key artistic and political concerns for performing artists in the Circumpolar North. My choice of Sweden, Greenland and Canada as areas of focus is far from arbitrary and allows for three unique, rich and complimentary case studies to tease out similarities, overlaps, variations and contrasts. All three ensembles have different histories and face different challenges and thus require contextually and culturally sensitive analysis. Yet they also share important commonalities that unite them in their decolonial struggle. Rather than conceptualizing these rich performance cultures as nationally isolated or structured along geopolitical borders, I analyse them as unfolding along transnational and intercultural processes and exchanges that circulate across the Arctic. As a result, my second aim is to theorize and argue for the concept of ‘circumpolar performance processes’ as an innovative methodological framework and analytical tool to situate these contemporary performance cultures in a transnational context and argue for an intercultural understanding of Arctic performances that respects the historical context and is culturally sensitive, but defies the confines of national boundaries. The project is theoretically informed by decolonial performance theories and the methodology builds on ethically responsible principles, including informed and voluntary consent by all participants, and actively supports Indigenous peoples’ right for cultural self-determination.
The first part of the project focuses on theatre and performance in the Swedish part of Sápmi and devotes particular attention to Giron Sámi Teáhter which is located in the northern city Kiruna/Giron. I analyze the history of modern Sami performing arts since 1971 when the independent ensemble Dálvadis started protesting the exploitation of land and natural resources in Sápmi, all the way to the contemporary efforts of Giron Sámi Teáhter to become officially recognized as Sweden’s national stage for Indigenous performing arts. I argue that studying and understanding the decolonial labour of Sami cultural performers necessitates an intersectional approach that respects issues on colonialism, gender and feminism, sexuality and queer studies, critical race studies and critical whiteness studies as well as a children’s and youth perspective. The method is based on archival studies of historical productions, performance analyses and interviews with Sami performing artists and knowledge holders (managing and artistic directors, actors, playwrights, directors, scenographers and costume designers). To ensure ethical responsibility, I follow regulations that have been developed by decolonial and Arctic researchers in the humanities and social sciences in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples as well as ethical protocols and guidelines that have been proposed by the Sami Council, the Sami Parliament and the Swedish Sami National Association.
Tennessee Williams in Sweden and France, 1945-1965: Cultural Translations, Sexual Anxieties and Racial Fantasies
Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2019
The immediate post-war period marks a pivotal moment in the internationalisation of American theatre when Tennessee Williams’ plays became some of Broadway’s most critically acclaimed and financially lucrative exports. Dirk Gindt offers a detailed study of the production and reception of Williams’ work on Swedish and French stages at the height of his popularity between 1945 and 1965. Analysing the national openings of seminal plays, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending and Suddenly Last Summer, Gindt provides rich and nuanced insights into Williams’ transnational impact. In the process, he charts a network of fascinating and influential directors, actors, designers, producers and critics, all of whom left distinctive marks on mid-twentieth-century European theatre and culture. Gindt further demonstrates how Williams’ work foregrounded cultural apprehensions, racial fantasies and sexual anxieties, which resulted in heated debates in the critical and popular media.
Lest We Forget: HIV and AIDS in Performance in Sweden and Canada
The project ‘Lest We Forget’ has two core objectives—a research component and an intercontinental network—which are intrinsically linked and designed to have an international outreach and impact. The first objective is to write the first comprehensive critical history of HIV and AIDS and queer theatre and performance in Sweden and Canada. The second objective is to implement an intercontinental working group of scholars working on HIV and AIDS in theatre and performance.
As part of this project, I have co-edited a volume with Dr Alyson Campbell (University of Melbourne), Viral Dramaturgies: HIV and AIDS in Performance in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). The volume is the first study that analyses the impact of HIV and AIDS on theatre and performance in the twenty-first century from an international perspective and includes contributions from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and United States. It serves as a necessary reaffirmation of the productive power of theatre and performance, as both a social process and creative practice, to respond to a public health crisis and act as modes of resistance against cultural amnesia and discrimination. The book reflects the current intellectual and methodological state of the discipline of theatre and performance studies by incorporating a wide range of theatrical expressions that range from traditional plays and spoken drama, dance, performance and installation art, documentary and community-based theatre to cultural performances in the public sphere.
(photo: Henrik Bengtsson, Memoria Photo)
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Berätta, överleva, inte drunkna: Antirasism, dekolonisering och migration i svensk teater
2022. .Book (ed)
Antologin "Berätta, överleva, inte drunkna" är den första publikationen på svenska som samlar scenkonstnärer och teatervetare till att reflektera över den pågående flyktingsituationen och den ökande främlingsfientligheten. Boken tar hänsyn till både strukturella och institutionella aspekter som spelar roll i dekoloniseringsprocesser (t.ex. kvotering; chefspositioner; scenkonstnärliga utbildningars upplägg).Antologin kan användas som kurslitteratur för studenter i teatervetenskap och besläktade ämnen, exempelvis barn- och ungdomsvetenskap, kulturstudier, litteraturvetenskap, genusvetenskap, lärarutbildningar och scenkonstnärliga utbildningar. Boken riktar sig även till scenkonstnärer och praktiker, studieförbund samt till en allmän publik som är intresserad av antirasistisk och postkolonial teater. Samtliga bidrag är skrivna på ett pedagogiskt sätt som gör boken tillgänglig för en akademisk och icke-akademisk publik.Boken har en inkluderande agenda som ger utrymme både för den yngre generationen scenkonstnärer och pionjärer som drivit på utvecklingen av de- och postkolonial teater. Perspektiv från institutionsteatrar varvas med erfarenheter från alternativa scenkonstnärliga miljöer. Antologins geografiska spännvidd sträcker sig från Malmö i syd till Sápmi i nord, och ortens teaterkultur får lika stort utrymme som storstädernas scenkonst. Syftet är att spegla den kulturella mångfald som präglar den samtida scenkonsten och bidra till en fördjupad dialog mellan akademin, scenkonsten och allmänheten.
Tennessee Williams in Sweden and France, 1945-1965: Cultural Translations, Sexual Anxieties and Sexual Fantasies
2019. Dirk Gindt.Book
The immediate post-war period marks a pivotal moment in the internationalization of American theatre when Tennessee Williams' plays became some of Broadway's most critically acclaimed and financially lucrative exports. Dirk Gindt offers a detailed study of the production and reception of Williams' work on Swedish and French stages at the height of his popularity between 1945 and 1965. Analysing the national openings of seminal plays, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending and Suddenly Last Summer, Gindt provides rich and nuanced insights into Williams' transnational impact. In the process, he charts a network of fascinating and influential directors, actors, designers, producers and critics, all of whom left distinctive marks on mid-twentieth-century European theatre and culture. Gindt further demonstrates how Williams' work foregrounded cultural apprehensions, racial fantasies and sexual anxieties, which resulted in heated debates in the critical and popular media.
Viral Dramaturgies: HIV and AIDS in Performance in the Twenty-First Century
2018. .Book (ed)
This book analyses the impact of HIV and AIDS on performance in the twenty-first century from an international perspective. It marks a necessary reaffirmation of the productive power of performance to respond to a public and political health crisis and act as a mode of resistance to cultural amnesia, discrimination and stigmatisation. It sets out a number of challenges and contexts for HIV and AIDS performance in the twenty-first century, including: the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry; the unequal access to treatment and prevention technologies in the Global North and Global South; the problematic division between dominant (white, gay, urban, cis-male) and marginalised narratives of HIV; the tension between a damaging cultural amnesia and a potentially equally damaging partner ‘AIDS nostalgia’; the criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure; and, sustaining and sustained by all of these, the ongoing stigmatisation of people living with HIV.
This collection presents work from a vast range of contexts, grouped around four main areas: women’s voices and experiences; generations, memories and temporalities; inter/national narratives; and artistic and personal reflections and interventions.
“We already carry out a national assignment”: Indigenous Performance and the Struggle for a Sámi National Theatre in Sweden
2022. Dirk Gindt. Theatre research international 47 (3)Article
In recent years, the arts and culture in Sweden have taken a stand against the prevailing epistemic ignorance on the Indigenous Sámi people by confronting majoritarian society with the realities of settler colonialism. This essay suggests that theatre and performance form part of this Sámi cultural revitalization and highlights the decolonial labour of Giron Sámi Teáhter, the oldest professionally driven touring company in the Swedish part of Sápmi. Taking one specific production, Ædnan (2020), as a springboard, the essay analyses how Giron Sámi Teáhter deploys the stage as a vibrant, decolonial forum where the history of settler colonialism and the Sámi people’s struggle toward self-determination is performed, celebrated and encouraged. The company has long laboured to gain official status as a fully-subsidized national theatre and the essay outlines the financial and political impediments encountered in a decades-long struggle that remains unresolved to this day.
Samisk scenkonst som gåva: Eeflektioner kring Giron Sámi Teáhter och dess dekoloniala arbete
2022. Dirk Gindt. Berätta, överleva, inte drunkna, 95-124Chapter
Swedish Whiteness, German Multiculturalism, French National Identity and American Racial Profiling Transnational Perspectives on Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Invasion!
2021. Dirk Gindt. Nordic Theatre Studies 33 (2), 36-57Article
Populated by characters from the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and Sweden, Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s debut play, Invasion! (2006), marked one of the first intercultural theatrical events on a mainstream Swedish stage. It unapologetically confronted audiences with the consequences of stereotypical representations of Muslim men as fundamentalist terrorists and further criticized the notion of “Swedishness” for not just working as a mere designation of nationality and citizenship, but also a silent, yet powerful signifier of whiteness. Moreover, Invasion! was the first play to be performed in a mainstream theatre by a cast that had an intercultural and international background and could effortlessly switch between standard Swedish (rikssvenska) and suburban Swedish (ortenspråk). Acknowledging the fifteenth anniversary of Invasion!, this article looks back upon the watershed of director Farnaz Arbabi’s original production and the play’s subsequent transnational impact. How did a play that was defiantly at odds with the hegemonic whiteness of the performing arts in Sweden, at that point in time, not only become a modern classic that found its way into the university curricula, but went on to garner an impressively transnational success? What exactly captured the interest and attention of theatre artists in Germany, France, the US, and many other countries? And how did international reviewers react to and interpret the work? What interests me specifically is to study how the play has ‘travelled’, how its characters and themes have migrated to different national and linguistic contexts, engendered new creative networks and transnational dialogues as well as unfolded multiple layers of cultural translations in the process. A genuine understanding and appreciation of Khemiri’s work, I suggest, necessitates a transnational outlook that, in turn, sheds light on Nordic theatre and performance as increasingly intercultural and motivated by concerns that are not regional but global.
Curating and Performing Racism: Scenarios of Afrophobia in Contemporary Sweden
2020. Dirk Gindt, John Potvin. Scandinavian Studies 92 (1), 1-38Article
Viral Dramaturgies: HIV and AIDS in Performance in the Twenty-First Century
2018. Alyson Campbell, Dirk Gindt. Viral Dramaturgies, 3-46Chapter
In 2004, on the final day of the Bangkok AIDS Conference, a drug com-pany packaged thousands of single antiretroviral pills into jewellery boxes and allowed one pill per delegate to be collected from their corporate booth. Many delegates at the conference came from countries where access to treat-ment medication was, and continues to be, restricted to the rich. There was a degree of confusion among sex worker activists who attended and whose background or migration status excluded them from accessing life-saving HIV treatment. After an entire week of protests, workshops, presentations, posters, activism, performance, installation, media and the experience of generally being marginalised within the broader HIV sector, we [sex worker activists] witnessed many migrant sex workers living with HIV and without access to treatment carrying their single pill away from the corporate booth.
National Performances of Crying: Neoliberal Sentimentality and the Commodification of HIV and AIDS Narratives in Sweden
2018. Dirk Gindt. Viral Dramaturgies, 235-253Chapter
Interview with Sarah Schulman: Corporate Culture, HIV Criminalisation, Historicising AIDS and the Role of Women in ACT UP
2018. Alyson Campbell, Dirk Gindt. Viral Dramaturgies, 387-404Chapter
Medico-artistic complicities on Swedish stages: The boys in the band and the regulation of gay male representation in the welfare state
2016. Dirk Gindt. Journal of Homosexuality 63 (5), 633-666Article
Seeking to understand the highly unfavorable conditions for the development of gay male theater in Sweden, this essay engages in a historical study of the national opening of Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band at Malmö City Theatre in 1970. Propelled by a Foucauldian-inspired theoretical approach, it identifies the subtle, yet highly effective, measures of control that the, at the time, social democratic welfare state exercised over representations of homosexuality on stage. State representatives, who complied with the official political and medical doctrine that homosexuality was a mental illness and posed a potential threat to social stability, interfered at various levels of the production, including the rehearsal process and post-performance talks between cast members and audiences. This alliance between Swedish theaters and members of the medical, psychological, and sexological professions constituted a medico-artistic complicity that supervised and regulated early attempts of gay representation on stage.
‘Your asshole is hanging outside of your body?': excess, AIDS, and shame in the theatre of Sky Gilbert
2014. Dirk Gindt. The uses of excess in visual and material culture, 1600-2010, 249-276Chapter
Sky Gilbert, Daniel MacIvor, and the man in the hotel room: queer gossip, community narrative, and theatre history
2013. Dirk Gindt. Theatre Research in Canada 34 (2), 187-215Article
This essay outlines how the gossip surrounding Tennessee Williams’s visit to Vancouver in 1980 has influenced the narratives of gay communities and in so doing contributed to queer theatre history in Canada. Stories of Williams inviting young men to his hotel room and asking them to read from the Bible inspired Sky Gilbert and Daniel MacIvor to each write a play based on these events. The essay argues that Gilbert and MacIvor transcend the localized specificity of the initial rumours and deploy gossip as a tool to articulate a process of sexual and cultural marginalization, thereby fostering a dialogue with the past. This dialogue marks a crucial and pedagogical task in gay and queer theatre to address the on-going needs of an ever-changing community.
The Queer Future That Dared Not Be Imagined: Ageing and “Post-AIDS” Theatre’
2018. Dirk Gindt. Q2QChapter
Den teatrala vreden: Hiv/aids och gayidentitet i Larry Kramers drama The Normal Heart
2008. Dirk Gindt. Lambda Nordica: Tidskrift för homo/lesbisk/bi/transforskning 13 (4), 74-97Article
The article offers an analysis of Larry Kramer's drama The normal heart (1985), one of the first written plays dealing with HIV/AIDS. The focus lies on how Kramer treats the question of gay male identity and the narrow understanding of gay politics dominated by white middle-class men. Four thematic areas are discussed: The main character's critique of sexual promiscuity and his demands of sexual abstinence, his encouragement to his friends to come out of the closet, the awareness of gay men's contributions to history and culture, and the rising anger and rage as driving forces for new alliances and broader forms of activism. The article argues that queer theory must be situated in the specific socio-political climate of the 1980s and reminds of the importance of the HIV/AIDS-crisis for shaping a new understanding of sexual identities.
"La plume vigoureuse et drue du cher André Obey": Controverses autour de la première adaptation française de La Chatte sur un toit brûlant de Tennessee Williams’
2021. Dirk Gindt. André ObeyChapter
Cat Without Claws: Death and Homophobia in Ingmar Bergman’s Production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
2020. Dirk Gindt. The Tennessee Williams Annual Review 19, 57-85Article
Transatlantic Translations and Transactions: Lars Schmidt and the Implementation of Post-War American Theatre in Europe
2013. Dirk Gindt. Theatre journal (Washington, D.C.) 65 (1), 19-37Article
Contributing to an intercultural understanding of American and European theatre in the post-war era, this essay explores the significance of the Swedish publisher and producer Lars Schmidt for the introduction and spread of U.S. plays and musicals on his side of the Atlantic. Schmidt’s innovative publishing strategies and production methods in addition to his skills as a cultural translator made works like The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and My Fair Lady commercially viable and intelligible to audiences in various national contexts. In the process, he was largely responsible for the emergence of the individual producer in Europe, a position that was perceived as foreign and at times vehemently dismissed as too commercial and too American.
When Broadway came to Sweden: The European premiere of Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
2012. Dirk Gindt. Theatre Survey 53 (1), 59-83Article
This essay proposes a case-study approach to examine how the initial European production of Cat was received and, by implication, how one of the defining American playwrights of the twentieth century was discussed in Sweden. It focuses on the process of cultural translation and, more precisely, the question of how Swedish ensembles interpreted a foreign playwright who was known for breaking sexual taboos. Unpacking the cross-cultural and transnational dialogue that was established when Cat made its first appearance on a European stage, the essay teases out the cultural tensions and the negotiation of national identity that took place when Williams’s play was transposed from the Mississippi Delta to a more northern latitude. I argue that the stage and the cultural sections of the newspapers offered a forum for Sweden to negotiate some of the country’s sexual anxieties by making use of American cultural products and firmly situating them in an exoticized American context whose values were deemed to conflict with European, and more specifically Swedish, cultural identity.
Williams and Bergman, Lust and Death: Culturally Translating A Streetcar Named Desire in Post-War Sweden
2013. Dirk Gindt. Tennessee Williams and Europe, 135-168Chapter
The Diva and the Demon: Ingmar Bergman Directs The Rose Tattoo
2012. Dirk Gindt. New Theatre Quarterly - NTQ 28 (1), 56-66Article
In this article Dirk Gindt discusses Ingmar Bergman’s 1951 production of Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo in the small Swedish town of Norrköping, demonstrating how Bergman methodically ignored the tragicomic nature of the play in order to develop and exaggerate its comic and grotesque elements. After extensive cuts and alterations in the script, the character Serafina delle Rose became even more overpowering than in the original text and dominated the action from beginning to end. Karin Kavli, a leading lady in Swedish post-war theatre and a frequent collaborator with Bergman, played the character not as a mourning widow but as a possessed disciple of Dionysus in an unabashedly entertaining and sexualized production which, despite reservations from critics, became a success with audiences.
Tennessee Williams and the Swedish Academy: Why he never won the Nobel Prize
2011. Dirk Gindt. Tenn at One Hundred, 153-167Chapter
Anxious Nation and White Fashion: Suddenly Last Summer in the Swedish folkhem
2009. Dirk Gindt. Nordic Theatre Studies 21 (1), 98-112Article
This article investigates how Tennessee Williams’ play Suddenly Last Summer, as staged in Sweden in 1959, communicated sexual and racial anxieties. It aims to tease out the importance of fashion for the articulation of the closet and the expression of the simultaneous absence and presence of the queer subject in the play. Looking at the omnipresent use of whiteness of certain key costumes, the essay further proposes the concept of white Gothic fashion and argues that this assumed a whole new meaning when staged in a social and historical context that was not only characterized by institutionalized homophobia, but also promoted white hegemony and the control of women’s bodies. Placing particular emphasis on the socio-historical context of Sweden in the 1950s, the article demonstrates how performance studies and fashion theory can engage in a critical cultural analysis and help us understand national emotions, concerns and anxieties.
Creativity, Corporeality and Collaboration: Staging Fashion with Giorgio Armani and Robert Wilson
2013. Dirk Gindt, John Potvin. Studies in Theatre & Performance 33 (1), 3-28Article
This essay analyzes the creative and economic relationship between and the intersections of theatre, performance and fashion by exploring the notion of collaboration through the work of Italian designer Giorgio Armani and American theatre director Robert Wilson. It addresses three case studies derived from different performance spaces: a performance art installation in a once derelict, purposefully redesigned train station; a modernist play staged in a traditional proscenium arched theatre; and a retrospective exhibition held in a fine art museum that invited the visitors to ‘walk the catwalk’. The objective of the essay is twofold. First, it focuses on the concrete results of the collaboration, that is, the actual events, the mutual artistic and economic benefits for both parties as well as the sometimes controversial critical reception and discourse surrounding them. Second, it queries the meaning and potency of the status of the auteur in a long-term creative collaboration between two equally influential artists from the related, yet distinct fields of theatre and fashion.
Coming Out of the Cabinet: Fashioning the Closet with Sweden’s Most Famous Diplomat
2010. Dirk Gindt. Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty 1 (2), 233-254Article
This essay offers a critical analysis of the media discourse surrounding the Swedish diplomat Sverker Åström’s coming out as a gay man at the age of 87. Particular interest is devoted to his striking fashion choice of wearing a pair of oddly coloured socks, which highlighted his contradictory masculinity as well as the many inherent paradoxes of the closet. Åström’s red and green socks functioned as a means to express forbidden desires, to oppose normative expectations in a playful way and to grant the gay subject a presence in a world that is still very much structured by the logics of the closet. Moreover, his contradictory body language, coupled with his repeated affirmations that his coming out was a private issue, revealed a divided masculinity that was ideologically dependent on a pre-feminist understanding of gender and sexuality as private, that is, non-political identities. The article argues that there was strong evidence to suggest that his coming out was in fact a tactical move in a political game with the objective to denounce and ridicule the Swedish Security Police, which, after decades of surveillance, refused to grant the diplomat access to its classified files on him.
Performative Processes: Björk’s Creative Collaborations with the World of Fashion
2011. Dirk Gindt. Fashion Theory 15 (4), 425-450Article
This essay analyzes how Icelandic singer-songwriter and actress Björk uses dress as a creative medium to enhance her musical vision, visualize her patriotic politics as well as ally herself with performance art and further strengthen her position in the avant-garde. I devote specific attention to her joining forces with British designer Alexander McQueen and British photographer Nick Knight and unpack the implications of this creative collaboration, arguing that Björk strategically uses McQueen’s and Knight’s understanding of fashion as a performative process, that is, constantly in a state of becoming and transformation, in order to create her unique style that is characterized by the shifting and unstable identity of the Icelandic geographical body. In the last part of the essay, I take Björk’s involvement with SHOWstudio as a starting point to reflect on some of the consequences when these visual and performative collaborations move into the realm of the digital.
Mode – en introduktion: En tvärvetenskaplig betraktelse
2009. .Book (ed)
Playing Activists and Dancing Anarchists: Men and Masculinities in Cultural Performances in Contemporary Sweden
2008. Dirk Gindt.Thesis (Doc)
Playing Activists and Dancing Anarchists is a Ph.D. dissertation that aims to analyse men and masculinities in political demonstrations and similar manifestations by conceptualising and analytically approaching such cultural performances as theatrical events. The case studies include: the large peace demonstration in Stockholm in February 2003 against the invasion of Iraq; a street theatre performance by the comedians Kesselofski and Fiske, who argue against the European Monetary Union; four Social Democratic May Day celebrations with former prime minister Göran Persson as the main speaker; two anti-racist demonstrations, one of which leads to a violent street battle between activists and a riot police squad.
The dissertation proposes Performance Studies as a relevant means of examining men and masculinities in political live events. The method of study is based on participant observation, which enables a direct experience of the theatrical communication. This material is complemented with additional sources, such as photographs, newspaper articles, magazines, video recordings, TV broadcasts, interviews, flyers and Internet websites. The theoretical and analytical approach is inspired by Willmar Sauter’s model of the theatrical event and Raewyn Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity. The theatrical event studies the live meeting between performers and spectators as a playful act of human communication in a concrete space. It also situates any performance in a cultural context that includes gender and gender relations. Connell suggests that, while most men benefit from the structural subordination of women, relations between different men and masculinities are dynamic and characterised by internal hierarchies. The normative and socially privileged position is given to hegemonic masculinity, a combination of cultural ideal and institutional power that is often reinforced by an underlying threat of violence.
The different chapters identify and discuss a broad range of men and masculinities, from a cowboy-politician and a financial shark to dead political father figures and masked collectives of martyrs. At first sight, these seem to be immensely diverse, unique and individual – but a closer analysis reveals that many of them are contemporary embodiments or complicit supporters of hegemonic masculinity. Underneath the playful surface of some of the events are strong undercurrents of this ideal. At times, these create a small quake during a cultural performance. At others, they erupt forcefully. While violence is a central theme of the study, it also shows the growing resistance offered by feminist activists, performers and musicians. Cultural performances prove to be loci where hegemonic masculinity is not only reproduced, but also contested. The concept of the theatrical event helps to identify and spotlight these attempts and shows how Performance Studies can contribute to analysing men and masculinities in political demonstrations and similar cultural performances.