Contract with the Skin: Masochism, Performance Art and the 1970s

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Kathy O'Dell argues that the growth of masochistic performance during the 1970s must be seen in the context of society's response to the Vietnam War and contemporaneous changes in theories of contract. She contends that the dynamic that exists between audience and performer during these masochistic acts relates to the tension resulting from ruptures in the social contract. Indeed, as the war in Vietnam waned, so did masochistic performance, only to reemerge in the 1980s in relation to the war on AIDS and the censorious culture wars .