Natasha Lushetich

One’s social identity is constituted in and through the act of naming. A name simultaneously interpellates the addressee and confines their resistance to the name’s religious, social, gender or racial oppression to the manoeuvring space warranted by that particular delimitation (e.g. gay, black, disabled). Since the 1960s rise of identity politics, several strategies have emerged in response to the closure of naming: the re-appropriation of injurious names; self-naming; and abject art, a form of public outrage at the increasingly invisible violence perpetuated by consumerist, class and gender interpellations – demands placed on the recessive realm of being which resides beyond naming.

Taking its cue from abject art, this article queries the possibility of an epigenetic effect of naming. Epigenetics refers to the dynamic alterations in the way DNA information is transcribed from generation to generation, its chief claim being that cultural and social behaviour has a lasting effect on an organism’s biological make-up (Pembrey et al 2006). In pondering the trans-temporal performativity of naming in a realm made increasingly significant by organ transplantation – the realm of the intercorporeal – the article asks: can the long-forgotten effect of past naming practices (from Ish’s naming of animals to the subsumption of slave labour under the slave owner’s name) resurface in the inter-corpus, in the communal abject, in the khora – the mise en abyme of time, place and matter? (Derrida 1995)

Performance Research: On Reflection