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Black Performance on the Outskirts of the LeftA History of the Impossible$
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Malik Gaines

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479837038

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479837038.001.0001

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The Radical Ambivalence of Günther Kaufmann

The Radical Ambivalence of Günther Kaufmann

(p.95) 3 The Radical Ambivalence of Günther Kaufmann
Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left

Malik Gaines

NYU Press

Within the oeuvre of German film, theater, and television director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the actor Günther Kaufmann typically played roles that radicalized his Afro-German body. The development of Fassbinder’s style through a history of political theater and the generational perspective of the late sixties helped construct a deeply critical presentation of difference, complicated by class, gender, race, sexuality, and provincial location, that unsettled the representation of a post-war West German order and its capitalist successes. Kaufmann problematized representation in a series of Fassbinder’s early productions, often through sexualized, violent, and campy portrayals that exceed both the Marxist and psychoanalytic readings often applied to Fassbinder’s work. Kaufmann’s unresolvable presence articulates a radical ambivalence that is critically effective if politically untidy.

Keywords:   ambivalence, radical, camp, Günther Kaufmann, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, film, theater, television, West Germany, Afro-German

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