Not-So-Exotic-Indians: Irony, Identity and Memory in <i>Spiderwoman</i>'s Spectacles


  • Robyn Diner Simone de Beauvoir Institute for Women's Studies


Spiderwoman, use of irony in art, First Nations identity


This article traces the trail blazed by Spiderwoman - a First Nations performance trio - who engage in the art of decentering the colonial, postcolonial and often even Native romance with the authentic. As I re-make and remark on Spiderwoman's spectacles, I suggest that their shows are ripe with a variety of ironies linked to an unruly bodily aesthetic featuring the figure of the carnivalesque female grotesque which work to disrupt and reconfigure representations of "Indian-ness." Such strategic interruptions also inevitably serve to unsettle seemingly stable concepts like identity and memory. In sum, I show how Spiderwoman work with and through irony and the figure of the unruly female body in ways that allow them to juggle and struggle with their desire to hold on to some form of First Nations identity in the midst of a society in which nostalgia for the lost "Other," the misguided myth of primitivity and commodity capitalism meet, greet and get off on one another.

Author Biography

Robyn Diner, Simone de Beauvoir Institute for Women's Studies

Robyn Diner is a doctoral candidate in Communication at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. She is also part-time faculty at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute for Women's Studies at Concordia. Her dissertation is titled, "Bodies of Irony: Fleshing out Irony and the Unruly Female Body in Contemporary Feminist Performance." She has presented a variety of papers stemming from her dissertation at diverse conferences throughout North America. Her most recent publication, "Things to Do With the 'F' Word: The Ironic and Unruly Adventures of Liz Phair and Courtney Love," appears in the "Young Women, Feminists, Activists, Grrrls" issue of Canadian Women's Studies.