The White Columns Curated Artist Registry is an online catalog of digital images documenting the work of artists who are not affiliated with a commercial gallery in New York City. Each submission is reviewed by our curatorial staff; in order to be considered for the registry, one must submit work digitally via this website.
My work is about the body’s relationship to identity, which is not a simple thing.
We each, in effect have two bodies; the one we experience from the inside as the internal, worn form. and the one that exists socially as the seen form. This seen form and the worn form are never the exact same, though they are each pivotal in the way we inhabit the world, Their differences are multiple and variable over age; relating to beauty, health, desire, class, ethnicity, power, and many other traits. You will be read and you will be misread, your body communicates.
As someone who identifies as transgender and has a body that is neither typically male or female, I take issue with how simply the gender paradigm is coded, enforced, and replicated; as well as its primacy in formatting human relationships. I do not believe that gender is a simple binary delivered forth from the body, but that it is a learned cultural code that we share and express largely through physical means. I regard the simple gender binary as an enacted myth.
How then is the relationship between gender (language) and the body (form) negotiated? How is a body written and read? For example, How and why does the material fact of an abundance of facial hair become meaningful i.e. refract the load of expectations and assumptions associated with maleness onto that hairy body?
I use layered, translucent photographs of my transgender body to examine my own complicated experience of gender, desire, sexuality, and impermanence. The photographs are only lightly adjusted in photoshop, the uncanny nature of the images results from the layering of the clear photos. These composited photographs exist in relation to diagrammatic drawings I do on the walls. I also sometimes suspend them from the ceiling on clear plastic sheets or built them off the wall, hovering over the drawings. Since the photos are printed on clear plastic film, as the light passes through them they generate projections that are cast onto each other and the drawings. As these object/images interact a new body is formed, one with unanticipated but familiar orafices, digits and skins. No individual photo exists independently, the entire installation exists as a web or network with light as the vehicle for connections. They are social.
Individual identity evolves within the framework of community and culture. It is not inherent from birth. What is left of an individual outside of the inheritance of language and custom? Try to imagine thoughts without language. It's impossible. Gender is part of this inherited behavioral coding, and it is culturally contingent with differing expectations world wide. Gender is social, it is a means of communication, a way of spanning and describing the gaps between us; the way we feel internally and the way we feel we relate to the group. It is important for my work to challenge boundaries like walls and framing devices. It is important for my work to reject the idea of the self determined individual. Each piece of the installation is affected by the presence of all other objects in the room. The grouping is a mutable, impermanent, evolving structure that relates to the way we attempt to understand ourselves and those around us.
KC Crow Maddux