"[Gaga Stigmata has] very modern, edgy photography to free flowing, urban narratives without censure to analytical essays, et cetera—like Gaga, imagination without ... limits. And the beauty is that anyone can submit work to the site, so artists and writers from all over the [world] have joined this experiment." -The Declaration.org

"Since March 2010, [Gaga Stigmata] has churned out the most intense ongoing critical conversation on [Lady Gaga]."
-Yale's The American Scholar

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spectacle of the Other Woman: Lady Gaga and Art as Excess

By Beth Goodney 

Despite all the references to scholarly works and close textual analysis, Jack Halberstam’s essay about Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video boils down to one major point: Don’t you just love her? Halberstam opens the essay “Can you hear me? Listen up: I am gaga for Gaga” and proceeds to unabashedly perform being gaga-ed throughout the rest of the essay. This sentiment, shared by many (as Halberstam readily admits), seems at first way too adoringly fan-ish to be the main argument of a queer theory essay. Further, the question is self-answering. To use a tone even more casual than the one Halberstam adopts, the answer to the question “Don’t you just love Lady Gaga?” is “Duh.” 

This is not to say that Halberstam’s essay is not an interesting, careful examination of Telephone(s). It is. But it is to say that the main taste left in one’s mouth (or echo ringing in one’s ear) is adoration and fascination, which Halberstam admits are their personal reactions to the work; Halberstam also gestures to a larger queer community which shares that reaction. It is almost like Halberstam is sending out a mass text message: “have u seen telephone? DAMN.” 

Other Internet commentators with a queer theory bent have taken a different approach,[i] writing about Lady Gaga’s work in a way largely divorced from their own reaction to it. They take a scholarly distance, carefully deciphering the meaning they see in Lady Gaga’s various music videos; rather than sending a text message, they are reading Gaga’s work like a text, looking for signs and interpreting symbols. I want to suggest that Halberstam’s response, which foregrounds their own reactions to Gaga’s art and engenders further reactions, may be more appropriate than a response which views Gaga’s work from a critical distance.  For Halberstam’s fan letter suggests something about the nature of art and our interactions with it: art engenders bodily reactions, and in the process transforms the bodies doing the reacting and the relations between them. That is art’s – and Gaga’s – political potential.

In her book Chaos, Territory, Art (2008), Elizabeth Grosz argues that art is spectacle that elicits and elaborates configurations of bodies and forces that were never imagined to be possible. For Grosz,  art does not convey meaning through signs, but rather induces and intensifies sensation. Her understanding of art’s workings also suggests the way to interact with it: “artworks are not so much to be read, interpreted, deciphered as responded to, touched, engaged, intensified” (79).  A work of art like “Telephone” need not be analyzed for its significance; rather, we should be seduced by it and proceed from there. 

For Grosz, art is seductive excess, and this definition allows her to see art in places far outside its traditional definition (a welcome framework when discussing pop music, which is often disparaged as a “lower” form of culture). She discusses art in the animal world, and finds architecture in hermit crab shells and choreography in mating displays. She pays special attention to music, writing, “music, like striking coloring or plumage, attracts and allures, it makes one notice, it alerts one to a spectacle, it becomes part of a spectacle” (32).  The appeal of art is in the spectacle, and it is the spectacle that should be engaged with.  

It is not that there is no significance in Gaga’s work, or in pop generally. Nor is reading the work analytically a bad exercise. But there is a problem with an engagement of Lady Gaga that attempts to see her work as a series of signs: an engagement that asks the question “what is the point?” of something like the “Telephone” video seems to miss the point entirely. The point is the spectacle itself, and the chains of reactions it engenders. 

Although art may be without purpose, recognizing it as such does have a purpose for Grosz. Giving in to the allure of the pointless has a point: it is excess, and excessive reactions, which hold the possibility for undermining, deforming, and transforming normative ways of being and relating. Grosz writes that through art “the natural and the lived are themselves transformed, the virtual in them explored, and strange connections – connections that have no clear point or value – elaborated with considerable effort and risk to the normalized narratives of the everyday and the assimilable” (78).  When we strangely, pointlessly connect with “Telephone,” we may be able to pose such a risk to normalized narratives.   

Halberstam’s and our responses to Gaga’s work can queer normative notions of what pop music is and does, and what it means to be a fan (or a scholar); in turn, those transmutations may suggest new ways of relating to ourselves and the world, even new ways of being human (or monster). Rather than trying to understand “Telephone,” we can appreciate the very aspects of it that defy understanding, not because the signs are so cryptic that only the most gifted semiotician could decipher them, but because they are arbitrary, superficial or aesthetic. These last have long been considered the realm of the feminine, the queer, the other, and to celebrate them is to undermine the idea that the only things that matter are those that have a point: things that communicate some deeper truth. We can contribute to a future that rejects objectivity and analysis as privileged modes of understanding, and that sees worth in things often considered worthless and insignificant – glamour, fashion, honeybees.  

In the end, a discussion about whether to focus on sensational responses to Gaga’s art rather than objective analysis of its signification may be superfluous: we simply may not have much of a choice but to be seduced. Halberstam summed it up perfectly in a recent talk at the University of MN: after a brief clip from the “Telephone” video, the audience collectively groaned, wanting to watch more, and Halberstam commented, “the danger is getting overshadowed by the clips.” Any writing about Lady Gaga just gets overshadowed by the clips: the audience wants to watch her, the dancing, the outfits, the glitter, the teeth again and again, the writing only a weak proxy for that fascination.  There is a lot to be said about Gaga but ultimately, the most astute observation of all may be DAMN! Would you look at her outfits?[ii]

[i] See, for example, most posts on this site.
[ii] This observation, as well as much else in this essay, could equally if not more so apply to such artists as Beyonce, Kelis, and Nicki Minaj. That Gaga has been embraced as a site of theorization by the largely white queer theory community in a way these women of color have not is a noteworthy exclusion. Potential reasons and implications are discussed here.
Author Bio:
Beth Goodney is a sexual health educator working in the Twin Cities. She holds a degree in Sexuality from Antioch College. Recently she choreographed a meeting between Lady Gaga and Elvis for the summer edition of Dykes Do Drag in Minneapolis – The jailhouse for bitches was definitely rocking. Her interests include Deleuze, desire, the future, consent, and glitter. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Can't Read My Poker Face": The Postmodern Aesthetic & Mimesis of Lady Gaga

By Ella Bedard

According to Gagapedia, the online encyclopedia dedicated to pop phenomenon Lady Gaga, the 24 year-old singer-performer’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She was born in New York, New York, is of Italian heritage, and has classical piano and vocal training. The ‘wiki’ biography goes on to explain that Gaga started performing in 2005, after dropping out of university to pursue her musical career. In 2007 she was signed to Streamline/Interscope Records, which produced her debut album The Fame in 2008. By the time her second album The Fame Monster was released the following year, Lady Gaga had become a multi-platinum international star.[1] It is typically considered appallingly bad form to cite a fan-run website in an academic analysis. In this case, however, there are two reasons why this practice is permissible: first, Lady Gaga is so recent a phenomenon that little critical scholarship exists on the artist’s life or work at this time. Secondly, (and this is the argument I will further elaborate in this piece), the performer’s actual biography is not only inconsequential for the purpose of this analysis, it is unimportant to the point of being inconvenient for the success of Lady Gaga’s career. It is not simply that Stefani Germanotta’s normal American upbringing clashes with the ultra-glamorous persona of Gaga. What potentially tarnishes her image is the fact that Lady Gaga has any history at all prior to her rise to fame.

What is most notable about Gaga, and what I will analyze here, is her visual aesthetic. Gaga has a highly allusive, almost grotesque, haute-couture style. Sometimes she resembles other pop stars, sometimes a character from Japanese animation, or a Roy Lichtenstein print. What one might call her ‘actual’ or ‘natural’ visage is virtually unknown to the public, since she always appears in costume, mimicking a plurality of feminine archetypes, but also performing more androgynous roles. Because she is seemingly without origin and constantly shifting her aesthetic self-presentation, Lady Gaga is quintessentially post-modern. From a feminist perspective, the fact that Gaga’s celebrity persona amounts to little more than a collage of gender citations is potentially subversive, while from a more traditionally Marxist perspective, it is the lack of grounding contexts that makes Gaga into a pure commodity fetish without inherent use-value beyond her aesthetic appeal and wide-scale marketability. In any case, that Gaga has adopted non-essentiality and pastiche as her persona is evidence of a bourgeoning trend in popular music culture: fragmentation, self-reflexivity, and the surface play of signification – the criteria used to periodize post-modern culture – have been overtly adopted as the dominant aesthetic in what is (over-simplistically) referred to as ‘mainstream’ culture. The paradox, of course, is that to adopt post-modernity as an aesthetic is to avow the loss of any grounding principle as a meta-narrative and as a practice that can be imitated and reproduced. Thus, what we see with Gaga is a redoubling of the post-modern. Through her aestheticization of post-modernity, Lady Gaga is able to capitalize on its marketability, while simultaneously holding up the practices of late-capitalism for critical analysis.

It is hard to say exactly what about Lady Gaga warrants so much attention. Musically, she is not particularly distinctive. Heavy beats, repetitive melodic hooks, and catchy lyrics are what make every pop song infectious and Gaga hardly deviates from this form. But it is not the music so much as Gaga herself that is being marketed. Not insignificantly, Gaga identifies herself as a performance artist as opposed to a musician. What she seems to acknowledge with her spectacles and self-presentation is that the essence of the Gaga persona and the engine behind her celebrity is fame itself. Much of Gaga’s allure is derived from her immediate ascent to superstardom. As dance music icon Kylie Minogue explains, “[Gaga] is like a meteor that just came from outer space and landed on the pop landscape or pop/dance landscape. And just… there was dust in everyone’s face.”[2] Gaga has barely released a second album and already she is being hailed as the new Queen of Pop. The titles of her albums are somewhat prolific (or one might say performative), since they refer to her extreme popularity, which occurred simultaneously to the release of those albums. In other words, there was no Gaga before her fame, and no fame before The Fame.

During interludes at her “Monster Ball” concerts, Gaga reads the “Little Monster Manifesto” which articulates this point:

So, the real truth about Lady Gaga fans, my little monsters, lies in this sentiment: They are the kings. They are the queens. They write the history of the kingdom, and I am something of a devoted Jester. It is in the theory of perception that we have established our bond. Or, the lie, I should say, for which we kill. We are nothing without our image. Without our projection. Without the spiritual hologram of who we perceive ourselves to be, or to become rather, in the future. When you're lonely, I'll be lonely too. And this is The Fame.[3]

Like pop-artist Andy Warhol whom Gaga cites as an artistic influence, Gaga acknowledges that fame is at once an obsession and the constitutive feature of her identity. The relationship between Gaga, the “Mother Monster,”[4] and her “Little Monster” following resembles the dialectical relationship between Master and Slave. She is only insofar as she exists before the eyes of the public: as much as her audience is captivated by her performances, she is not only captivated but produced as a result of the devotion and constant attention of her fans. The actual facts of Germanotta’s life, including where she was born, where she was trained, and what her artistic intentions are, are no more real than the information that circulates about her on the Internet. Gaga is, as Jean Baudrillard would have it, pure simulacrum, “a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”[5] Put differently, Lady Gaga does not exist. Those potentially inaccurate shards of signification found in the media and on the Internet are what constitute “the history of the kingdom” and amount to the “spiritual hologram” that is the Lady Gaga phenomenon[6]. As Gaga seems to acknowledge in the “Little Monster Manifesto,” she ‘is’ only insofar as she exists as performance and image.

One might argue that every celebrity that we become familiar with via the mediation of Internet and magazine exposés is a simulated construction in this same way. The difference with Gaga, however, is that her performance highlights and plays with the illusory nature of reality. In this age of spectacle, as Baudrillard would have it, the difference between what is ‘real’ and what is ‘artificial’ is almost arbitrarily determined by way of convention. For example, celebrities are presented as having a public persona that is revealed during designated instances of performance, but they are also ‘caught’ by the paparazzi in private leading their ‘real’ lives with friends, family, and sweatpants. The constancy of Gaga’s staged persona works to problematize the false dichotomy between the performers’ ‘real’ and ‘artificial’ identity. At her younger sister’s high school graduation, for example, Gaga turns out in a white lace body suit and an enormous black hat with a veil and a lace train.[7] There is little difference between this costume and what she wears when performing on stage or in music videos. She is never ‘caught’ by the camera off-stage since there is no ‘real’ Lady Gaga behind her performed identity.

In her essay “Grab Your Old Tricks: Lady Gaga and Reflective Performance,” Kathryn Leedom notes how Gaga does not project an image for her audience’s consumption so much as she reflects the (consumer) habits of her audiences back to them. Perhaps the best example of this is the way in which Gaga has imitated her interlocutors in certain high profile interviews. During a Larry King interview aired June 1, 2010, Gaga is shown with her hair cut short and slicked back, wearing a white collared shirt, black suspenders and a black tie, mirroring King’s own characteristic style and gestures.[8] This is what Leedom calls the “reflective performance” of Gaga. Though she is incredibly cooperative in this and other interviews, there is never anything genuinely revealing about these encounters. With Barbara Walters (whom Gaga is also dressed to resemble) Gaga humbly admits that she never takes off her glasses but will do so in this interview. Though it may seem that she is here exposing her ‘true’ self, she is simply playing into Walter’s publicly established disarming style. Later, she confesses to being a family-loving Italian girl, echoing countless other stars that have made the same appeal to authenticity when sitting with Walters.[9] In this performance, Gaga succeeds in imitating the form of the Barbara Walters interview, even tearing up when discussing her family -the way celebrities invariably do in a Walters exposé. In the reflective performance, Gaga mirrors the context in which she is situated rather than revealing some ‘inner truth.’ When sitting with King, she reflects King; when sitting with Walters she is any and every celebrity who has been interviewed by Walters.

In “Postmodernism and Consumer Society,” Fredric Jameson defines this ever-shifting mimetic practice as pastiche:

Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique style, the wearing of a stylistic mask […] but without parody’s ulterior motive, without the satirical impulse, without laughter, without that still latent feeling that there exists something normal compared to which what is being imitated is rather comic.[10]

Parody can only occur if the unique style being imitated is perceived as having deviated from some norm. In this regard, Jameson explains, it is a distinctly modern practice, since it implies belief in the existence of an essential, stable reality. The postmodern equivalent of pastiche is a form of dumb or blank parody; it plays and mimes various styles without calling these styles back to any whole or constant reality.

Thrashing dance choreography, video sunglasses, and the characteristic hair bow (literally a bow made out of hair) have become part of Gaga’s distinct aesthetic. However, she is equally known for the slipperiness of her appearance. In the music video for “Bad Romance,” which inaugurates the current high-art/fashion phase of Gaga’s career, she looks radically different in almost every shot. In one scene, her eyes have been digitally enhanced to give them the glossy, doe-like quality of a Japanese anime character. In the video for “Alejandro” she wears conical guns as a brassiere and has bleached blonde hair, mimicking the iconic style of 1980s Madonna. For post-modern theorist of gender and identity, Judith Butler, there is great political potential in such parodic practices. For Butler, the gendered ‘I’ that is identified as either ‘woman’ or ‘man’ does not possess innate sexuality: “gender is a performance that produces the illusion of an inner sex or essence or psychic gender core; it produces on the skin, through the gesture, the move, the gait […] the illusion of an inner depth.”[11] A ‘woman’ is not female in essence. Rather, the female ‘I’ is reconstituted again and again when that individual participates in a performance of feminine identity. Thus, one’s identity as ‘woman’ is in no way homogenous, for at every moment the female ‘I’ is constituted anew and with difference through the performer’s sequential citation of gender norms.

With her constant imitation of popular gendered tropes, Lady Gaga’s performances work to disrupt the myth of an essential femininity. Consider the music video for “Telephone,” in which Gaga dances in a jaguar suit in front of her truck in the desert, imitating country-pop star Shania Twain in her 1997 video “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” Here, Gaga has contorted the conventional sexuality of Twain into something much more grotesque. Her one-piece cat suit includes boning around the ribs and pelvis that give Gaga the appearance of having a feline skeletal structure. In this way, the outfit blurs the line between the sexual appeal of animal print and the taboo of inter-species relations. Similarly, Gaga’s ghostly white make-up and dark eyes make her look like a corpse, producing a thanato-erotic anxiety in her spectators. Thus, in her imitation of Twain, Gaga has succeeded in making a familiar feminine image into an altogether uncomfortable one. Though Gaga’s body conforms to conventional standards of feminine beauty, it is used as a blank canvas on which a plurality of different identities – not all of them feminine – can be projected. Because Gaga moves so rapidly (but not seamlessly) between uncanny parodies, her appearance draws attention to the fact that gender is always imitatively constituted. The unending media gossip about the real status of Gaga’s gender and sexuality is a testament to the anxiety that her performances of drag have created. Though Gaga appears practically naked in almost all her music videos, her sexual identity remains ambiguous and creates uneasiness in her spectators. Insofar as Gaga continuously parodies the recognizable styles of other artists, she has made an identity of pastiche. She cites iconic, often gendered identities without indicating the existence of a ‘neutral’ or ‘normal’ self that these performances can be said to mask.

In defining pastiche, Jameson refers to the work of Andy Warhol, whose Campbell’s Soup Can prints index the hyper-commodified culture of Late Capitalism without ever “completing the hermeneutic gesture.”[12] By transposing the commodity into the realm of art, removing them from any larger system or historical context, Warhol’s work highlights the already fetishistic nature of the commodity. In doing so, Warhol brings consumer culture into critical light, as the spectator sees the division between the aesthetic and economic realms disappear. Leedom makes a similar argument about Gaga’s reflective performances, arguing that Gaga’s self-commodification and the blatant product placement in her videos “functions as a mirror for consumer culture and her audience.”[13] However, there is a crucial difference between Warhol’s prints and Gaga’s product placement: Warhol was selling himself and his art, not Campbell’s soup. Gaga on the other hand, is marketing both herself and the products in her video. In “Telephone” there are two different types of product placement. Purchasable goods, such as a Virgin Mobile cell phone, a Polaroid camera, and Gaga’s own Heartbeat Headphones, appear in the video. There are also fake product placements, such as the Double Breasted Drive-Thru soda and sandwich wrappers shown in Beyonce’s truck, the iconic Pussy Wagon from Quentin Tarrantino’s Kill Bill films. Here, Gaga makes a Warhol-esque gesture by mocking blatant consumerism and American excess. However, Gaga simultaneously promotes and benefits from these same practices. If Warhol’s art gestured towards the inherent consumerism in art, Gaga’s videos completely obliterate the difference between art and the economic market: she is selling, she is being sold, she is unapologetically sold out.

The question remains as to whether Gaga’s postmodernism only gestures towards a more radical feminist or capitalism critique before settling into a less subversive position. For both Jameson and Butler, what practices of aesthetic or identity pastiche imply is “a new kind of flatness or depthlessness” that corresponds to the post-modern distrust of the discreet modern subject.[14] For Butler, the practice of gender citation serves to “dispute the psyche as inner depth,[15] contesting the notion that “I” am autonomous and whole before my encounter with (gendered) others. The paradox of Gaga’s performance, as Leedom points out, is that she is “extremely unique and yet reminiscent of many various people.”[16] We see the simulacra of Gaga working in full effect, producing such a high volume of convincing images that we find ourselves buying the reality of her intentionally artificial performances. Ironically, it is because of her overt mimicry and allusive style that Gaga is being presented and celebrated as a highly individualized artist-genius who has changed the face of popular culture.

Online culture critics such as Leedom celebrate Gaga for her deconstructionist approach to pop music.[17] They do so assuming that Gaga intends to subvert the genres and systems in which she is so deeply entrenched. I am not entirely convinced by Gaga’s self-proclaimed dedication to “love and art.”[18] However, this analysis is not concerned with whether or not Lady Gaga has “genuine” artistic merit. What matters for our purposes is that there is no sound way to resolve this debate. The tension between Gaga as commodity fetish and Gaga as deconstructive subject-less art object cannot be resolved. In her work A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction, Linda Hutcheon explains that postmodern art and theory incarnate such paradoxes, “not by choosing sides, but by living out the contradiction of giving in to both urges.”[19] In Gaga, there are a number of unresolved tensions: between titillation and the grotesque, between the pure pleasure of pop culture and the ideologies being showcased, and between her absolute complicity and subversion of dominant discourses and capitalist forces. What these paradoxes demand is critical attention: through investigation and discussion, we cannot determined who or what Gaga ‘is’. Rather, we are able to trace the various discourses – of gender, of capital, and of popular culture – to create a fluid and temporary sketch of what Lady Gaga presents as a phenomenon of late capitalist post-modernity.

[1] 2009. Web. <http://ladygaga.wikia.com/wiki/Lady_Gaga>.

[2] "Kylie Minogue On Lady Gaga: ‘She’s An Absolute Force To Be Reckoned With’." Access Hollywood 3 June 2010:Web. 9 Jun 2010. <http://www.accesshollywood.com/kylie-minogue-on-lady-gaga-shes-an-absolute-force-to-be-reckoned-with_article_33133>.

[3] 2009. Web. <http://ladygaga.wikia.com/wiki/Gagapedia>.

[4] Gaga, Lady. Web. 9 Jun 2010. <http://twitter.com/ladygaga>.

[5] Baudrillard, Jean. "Simulacra and Simulations." Selected Writings. 2nd ed. Rev. and Expanded ed. Stanford, California: Standford University Press, 2001. Pg169.

[6] 2009. Web. <http://ladygaga.wikia.com/wiki/Gagapedia>.

[7] "Lady Gaga Attends Her Sister's Graduation." Styleite. Web. 11 Jun 2010. <http://www.styleite.com/media/lady-gaga-graduation-photo/>.

[8] "Lady Gaga FULL Interview On Larry King Live." 1 June 2010. Web. 10 Jun 2010. <www.youtube.com>

[9] "20/20 Lady Gaga Interview with Barbara Walters." January 22 2010. Web. 10 Jun 2010. <www.youtube.com>

[10] Frederic, Jameson. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. 3rd Ed. David Lodge and Nigel Wood. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd., 2008. 542.

[11] Butler, Judith. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination." Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. ed. Diana Fuss. New York: Routledge, 1991. p. 134.

[12] Jameson, Frederic. "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader. 2nd ed. Ed. K.M Newton. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. 279.

[13] Leedom, Kathryn. "'Grab Your Old Tricks':Lady Gaga and Reflective Performance." Gaga Stigmata (2010):Web. 10 Jun 2010. <http://gagajournal.blogspot.com >.

[14] Jameson, “Logic of Late Capitalism,” 272.

[15] Butler, “Insubordination”, 1498.

[16] Leedom, Kathryn. "'Grab Your Old Tricks':Lady Gaga and Reflective Performance." Gaga Stigmata (2010):Web. 10 Jun 2010. <http://gagajournal.blogspot.com >.

[17] Gaga Stigmata n. pag. Web. 11 Jun 2010. <http://gagajournal.blogspot.com >.

[18] "20/20 Lady Gaga Interview with Barbara Walters." January 22 2010. Web. 10 Jun 2010. <www.youtube.com>

[19] Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism. New York: Routledge, 1999. x. 
Author Bio:
Ella Bedard is a student of contemporary history, culture, and criticism in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This year she will be moving to Toronto where she hopes to pursue her interests in performance, gender ambiguity, and Gaga.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Call for Submissions: Bled Threads

Gaga Stigmata is excited to open submissions for our new fashion project Bled Threads. Bled Threads is a curated online forum of Gaga-inspired couture. 

Photo by Refinery29.com

"To me my outfits aren’t wacky. They are who I am. The fame can kill you. You say I am my clothes, and I am my clothes. My clothes bleed too. Just like me." 
--Lady Gaga

To Lady Gaga, fashion is more than clothing placed on the body--it is as alive as the Living Dress she performs in for her Monster Ball tour. It is a hologram of the ever-changing self. For Gaga, fashion is not about costumery in the traditional sense, as there is no stabilized identity behind the masquerade. Fashion, rather, is political spectacle. It is both weapon and shield, a way to combat and avoid the victimization of fame--fame being the bloody price of offering oneself up for the judgement of the crowd.

Gaga's fans have found inspiration and subversive power in mimicking the Lady's fashions, as well as in crafting their own original pieces in order to perform their complex identities in a world that's still entrenched in dangerous binaries. It is these risky, exciting fashions--the fans'--that we will present in Bled Threads, a curated forum of Gaga-inspired couture.

Instructions for Submissions:
Please include at least one full body shot of your costume, and any close up shots of detailed areas. Professional, high-resolution photos are encouraged. Include the following questionnaire with your submission. We may follow up with additional questions if your entry is selected for presentation in the gallery.

Q & A:

What is your name? (Nicknames are fine)

Where are you from?

How long did it take you to craft your costume?

What was your inspiration? Please be specific.

Please describe your costume in detail:

What was your experience like wearing the costume?

If you wore your costume to a Lady Gaga concert, where was the concert?

If you were to name your costume, what would you call it?

Please send all submissions to gagajournal@gmail.com. Put "Bled Threads Submission" in the subject header, and please also include a bio.

Note to Professional Designers: Any clothing designers who wish to create a Gaga-related costume for submission to our regular Artworks section of the site (and for possible inclusion in our book project) are encouraged to do so. Please see our Creative Submission Guidelines for more details.