Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Body Arts

OCD's Perceptual Challenges and Tehching Hsieh's "Time Clock Piece"

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2015), 9, (1), 53–69.

Abstract

Disability scholarship has tended to focus on embodied disability rather than psychiatric impairments. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which some scholars classify as an invisible disability, is one such psychiatric impairment that wants for scholarly attention. The article extends the conversation on OCD by exploring the correspondences between obsessive ritualizing and durational performance art, sometimes called "body art" or "time-based performance art." Performance art can helpfully serve as a kind of periscope—a device enabling a viewer to see something else held at a remove—to examine OCD without placing the burden of representation onto individuals who self-identify as obsessive-compulsive. Reading disability into a performance piece not explicitly about disability enables us to trouble OCD's status as strictly invisible. Studies of OCD's representational challenges can enrich disability theory by offering a way to conceive of disability as embodied but not visible, or, alternately, as invisible but existing in the body.

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Orem, Sarah