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Barnum & Bailey & Barney: Freak Show at the Guggenheim

Barnum & Bailey & Barney: Freak Show at the Guggenheim

Chapter:
(p.185) Coda Barnum & Bailey & Barney: Freak Show at the Guggenheim
Source:
The Freak-garde
Author(s):
Robin Blyn
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816678167.003.0006

This concluding chapter explores the history of the freak-garde and their descriptions about posthuman subjectivity and corporate personhood. It emphasizes Matthey Barney’s Cremaster cycle and its exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum of New York. It argues that the work constitutes a freak show that presents posthuman subjectivity that is genealogically rooted in corporate personhood. It addresses the feature of the double-amputee track athlete Aimee Mullins, and looks into how the Cremaster cycle critically exposes the fantasy of self-making, propagated in popular constructions of the “cyborg” and in theoretical elaborations of prosthetic subjects. It argues that the freak show does not reject posthuman subjectivity but attempts to recover its antihumanist potential, revealing the vital links between posthuman subjectivity and the ontological condition of corporate personhood. It also suggests that the cycle implies a corporation’s right to deny a mode of personhood to American citizens.

Keywords:   freak-garde, posthuman subjectivity, corporate personhood, Matthew Barney, Cremaster cycle, Guggenheim Museum of New York, freak show, Aimee Mullins, cyborg prosthetic subjects

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