Occupying Anonymous: Juvenile Arbitration Girls Perform Disidentities

  • Courtnie Wolfgang Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Olga Ivashkevich University of South Carolina


In this article, we discuss a video project, Occupying Anonymous, conducted with a group of adolescent girls in an arts-based arbitration program for first-time juvenile offenders. By law, the program requires all adolescent participants to conceal their faces and other physical identity markers in their artwork to protect their public image. Through Occupying Anonymous, we aspired to address the tension between our participants’ public visibility and anonymous art making by embracing anonymity as a performative strategy. The girls transformed their physical identities by creating alternate personas using wigs, makeup, costumes, and props to perform their poems or prose about significant issues in their lives. We employ productive intersections between theoretical frameworks of Muñoz’s (1999) theory of disidentification, Deleuze’s and Guattari’s (1987) concept of becoming, and Butler’s (1990, 1993) notion of performativity to reframe gendered identity and self as supple, fluid, and open to multiple possibilities.