Facing and Defacing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter begins with an examination of images of the face captured by police during the English riots of 2011, when the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester commented “we have your face…we are coming to get you.” As Deleuze and Guattari note “you’ve been recognised, the abstract machine has you inscribed in its overall grip… [it] rejects faces that do not conform or seem suspicious.” Face recognition technology appears to provide potentialities for surveillance and identification: the face in the street can be connected through Facebook profiles to credit ratings and more. However, these expectations do not materialise in practice, as Kelly Gates has shown, and in the end other, more traditional techniques were used by politics in Manchester and elsewhere in 2011. The outlawing of facemasks or hoodies was considered in the wake of the riots, and the chapter ends by exploring the wider issues of the concealment and redacting of the face, through the 2007 Manu Luksch film Faceless, and the assumption of facelessness or bare life in the body politic of the riot, where both rioters and police are masked. Deleuze and Guattari claim that the face is a politics; dismantling or effacing the face, like defacing property in a riot, may constitute another politics. The chapter explores whether an alternative politics is indeed being performed here and what form of politics it might be.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Politics and Performance
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Aesthetics and Creative Practice
EditorsJenny Edkins, Adrian Kear
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781315884004, 9781134664535
ISBN (Print)9780415706223
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2013

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