Sia: Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Other, Becoming-Imperceptible

On May 19, 2014, Sia Furler performed her song, “Chandelier,” on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” It has been said that the performance was a recreation of the music video, complete with a replica of the set. Even the dancer, Maddie Ziegler, is represented as imitating Sia’s appearance. It is quiet easy to understand this relationship to be analogical. Ziegler performs in place of Sia because Sia does not wish to be a public figure. However, to establish a correspondence between Zeigler and Sia, there must already be a difference in identity between the two people. Contrary to the imitation interpretation, Sia’s performance suggests a challenge to the presupposition of fixed identities. Our current task is to understand this challenge and its implications.

This task will play out in three acts. In the first, we will look at how Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari critique imitation in their concept becoming-animal. They provide us with philosophical and scientific reasons for believing that difference precedes identity, thus making imitation secondary to the more primordial processes of becoming. The second act magnifies the role of Ziegler in the performance. Continuing on the theme of becoming-animal, we will link Ziegler’s role to Arthur Rimbaud’s doctrine of the seer. Ziegler does more than interpret Sia’s song in dance; she reinvents it. Finally, the closing act unveils the affirmation at the core of becoming-animal and Rimbaudian becoming-other. We argue that it signifies more than the rejection of identity and its law of resemblance or imitation. To this end, we graft Hakim Bey’s logic of disappearance onto Sia’s theatrics. Ultimately, we seek to prove that the wig fashioned after Sia’s hairstyle is an invitation to become other than oneself within a general economy of alterity. Read the rest of this entry »

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