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Mairead Case

Mairead Case is a working writer and teacher. Currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Denver, she teaches at DU, the Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and every Friday at the Denver women's jail. Mairead has been a legal observer with the NLG for over a decade. She is the author of the novel See You In the Morning (featherproof), the poetry chapbook TENDERNESS (Meekling Press), and with David Lasky, the forthcoming Georgetown Steam Plant Graphic Novel. maireadcase.com

"How We Want It: Listening to Tracy + the Plastics"
Bodies are inherently valid, said Mark Aguhar. And gender is a construct: a situational prism with race, sex, labor, and family as facets taking light in and reflecting it out. Ideally, body and gender co-exist and are visible. Sometimes this happens—in public, private, the archive, occasionally—but more often it doesn’t. What if, what about when who we are is erased by the dominant culture? Music, especially live performances or multimedia documentation, helps us look at this problem, think about it, and get free. “It’s that thing,” said Mark in her artist statement, “where the only way to cope with the reality of your situation is to pretend it doesn’t exist; because flippancy is a privilege you don’t own but you’re going to pretend you do anyway.”

 So what if flippancy isn’t an on/off switch (“I’m here! Now I’m not!”) but a blur or a glitch? In Olympia circa 2000, Wynne Greenwood started her one-person “lesbo-disco” band, Tracy + the Plastics. Using a drum machine, a disc sampler, and projected video, Wynne would perform live as Tracy, singing to and talking with the Plastics (Nikki, Cola, and Honeyface; also Wynne). “When an individual in a marginalized group”—queers, women, three girls who work at a pawn shop and replace parts of themselves with plastic—“talks to a recorded image of themselves,” wrote Wynne, “it empowers the individual… Popular culture has no whole identity to offer its audience other than the one that resembles the ruling class. We can come out. And then come out again. We can rearrange the world how we want it.” Using archival material, lived experience, and interviews, this talk will examine Tracy + the Plastics as a flippant coping mechanism, a brave new gender, and an important way to listen.