No Trace of The Blonde

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Date: 1991

Region: North America

Subject: Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Performance Art, Theatre


Artist: Holly Hughes and Ellen Sebastian

Confronting Bodies: Christian Right

Dates of Action: 1991

Location: New York City

Description of Artwork: Hughes described No Trace of The Blonde as exploring "the suppression and anxiety surrounding powerful female sexuality... The work will be created for up to five performers with two pubescent girls, black and white, about 12 years old, as the main characters." The work's three sources of research and inspiration would be "Carmella", a 19th-century vampire short story; the Afro-Haitian religion Santeria; and early 20th-century surrealist women painters.

The Incident: Even before No Trace of The Blonde had been written, the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission challenged the work, charging, incorrectly, that two 12-year-olds were to cast in the NEA funded work dealing with lesbianism. Hughe's grant was used by the religious right to argue that Congress had not "reformed" the NEA and should remove it from the federal budget.

Results of Incident: Hughes released a statement refuting the far right accusations, "Neither Ms. Sebastian or I have any intention of using actual 12-year-old or adolescent actors in this project. These characters may be represented by myself with another adult actor... or in some other way." Congress voted to continue tax support for the NEA.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1992Theatre