Two shadows disappear and I become myself.
I don’t know if I’m too pleased with that title anymore, but that’s the title I gave this work when I sent in to apply for art schools. And I haven’t thought of an alternative yet, so it’ll have to do for now… It’s about the dream of being read correctly (?), being liberated from something uncomfortable, for a moment. I suppose. But I mean, I am myself. Regardless of the shadows.
I never get around to “publishing” any work like this, that centers around aspects of my gender identity, because as soon I step back and take a look at it, it reveals its problems. It reveals the ways it could cause harm both to myself and to others. First and foremost others.
There’s a violent conflict in how I feel about altering my own body and what kind of expectations I may continue to push onto other people and their bodies while doing so. My body is white, thin, able… As a genderqueer/androgynous body it is very close to the narrow accepted ideal for what that kind of body should look like. Yes, I promise you there is a world of cis-people out there with the opinion that: “Gender ambiguity should look like this fashion spread in i-D Magazine or it’s totally gross.” There’s this tiny exception where it is OK to “deviate” from the ideal cis-body towards a more fluid one, but only because it fulfills all these other ideal standards. And also, in this context, there’s almost never any personal statement. Like, I bet, it’s going to annoy people that along with the images above this text there is, you know, the text. BLAH BLAH BLAH boring I want to look at the pictures. I’m gonna post it to my thinspo blog.
I don’t want to be one more thin, white, punch in the face to all the queer/trans bodies that are devalued in this horrendous world because they aren’t thin or white or able or ALL OF THE ABOVE and a myriad of other reasons.
But I am.
Lord knows there are things that are not ideal when it comes to my body, but the privileges are apparent, abundant. I see someone who is closer to the ideals I have personally internalized, and I admit, I feel ugly, or like a failure in relation to what I should look like, no one escapes this poison, but these sort of feelings don’t compare - at all - because I don’t face the kind of oppression that so many other people face because of their bodies. I simply don’t. And I have understood that my body will make other people feel bad about theirs. I can work my outmost to not ignore these privileges I have. At keeping myself aware and careful. And still, it won’t work, by default it won’t work, I am still me, speaking from a place that’s going to injure someone else, because my voice is heard and not theirs. Due to my privileged position. My work is personal, sure, it is not meant to represent any story or journey but my own, but whatever - art is never just art, one person’s struggle is not just one person’s struggle. Everything builds and affects someone else. Or intrudes upon and demolishes someone else.
So, this torso. I set out to create an object that would make me feel comfortable posing topless/in something that reveals the chest in photographs, at least, (because the torso of course is not comfortable enough to wear outside). I don’t know what I ended up with. I set out to explore in imagery what it would be like if the real alteration of my breasts weren’t up to “gender investigators” and the fucked up system you need to pass through to transition - and of course you can only transition from one end of the binary to the other in Sweden, so any surgical alteration isn’t possible right now. But I only took a few portraits in it and since these first ones I haven’t taken any more. I don’t like the fact that I’m in long johns and briefs. I’m missing the femme extravaganza that this torso needs to be accompanied with, in my mind, to make it revolutionary. A body decorated with lots of draped velvet, sequins, lace and fabulous make-up.
When I get it back from the school I turned it in to as an application I might try and give it nipples. Or I might burn it in the forest behind the house.