How can I be who I am if I cannot be seen? If I am illegible, how do I exist in the world honestly?
Our physical characteristics (clothing, accent, grooming, musculature, height, complexion, etc) signal and mis-signal key biographical features about us, i.e gender, class, age, race, maybe country of origin, cultural interests etc. For better or worse, those perceived identity features trigger associated projections and responses from others. Though there is much as stake, there is no real way to navigate this terrain from the inside out. In so many ways, identity is piled on you from the outside.
Bodies are costumes, or can feel that way to someone, like myself, who has changed theirs. I have experienced the vast difference between how men and women are treated. I am transgender and have lived as both. This has been incredibly disorienting for many reasons. I think some of us want to believe that our physical presentations have limited affect on how the world meets us. In my experience, I have witnessed how bodies literally mean things. Generally speaking, a male appearing body triggers vastly different responses and expectations from people than a female appearing body. As someone who has sat inside each, I feel like I have seen the threads of one of the biggest lies humanity continues to tell itself.
My experience is not visibly evident in my form i.e I do not look "trans" (whatever that means). A large part of my experience has been overwritten by my current appearance; the 30 odd years I lived in a female presenting body have been rendered invisible from such trite biological shifts as growing hair on my face. Socially , I appear and am treated as something I have never been, a straight CIS white male. I identify as trans, and oftentimes that identity does not neatly align with visual cues or behaviors that signal a trans experience. As a social device, my body has only betrayed me in either form I've inhabited. I'm not sure that this is not the case for most people, in one way or another.
How does the body function as both the site of embodiment, the tether between the pscho-emotional and material life; and as a social tool that communicates and betrays our lived experiences? The body is human, without being a person. We wear our bodies. We communicate through our bodies. Gender is an expression made physical through the use of our bodies.
I use layered transparent photographs of my non-binary transgender body to present alternative possibilities and undermine common expectations of the human shape. These photos are a way for me to take my body off, look at it, and render it a proxy performer.
Almost all of the “effects” are physical and either happen before the camera (with gels, exaggerated poses, etc) or after the images are printed (layering, lighting). I am interested in the photographs as objects in space. They are very context dependent affected dramatically by installation, lighting, and viewing angle. I am interested in creating a network, where fragments are projected/reflected/repeated like language.
I am interested in the implications of injecting the transmasculine nude into art history. With some of my work I am quoting the art historical while implicating the post-human. Just as my body was both biologically inherited and designed by me.
Many of my decisions result from rejections: no to illusionistic space, no to the fourth wall, break the picture plane, no white light, no self-contained objects. I sometimes refuse these common stategies in order to denaturalize them. For instance, a rectangular picture format and white light are not neutral choices, they are traditional, but not neutral. I replace the traditional with a less expected choice in order to highlight the relativistic nature of tradition. Normal means regular not correct. I want a trans format for these trans bodies.