Bring Your Own Body

MOTHA is please to participate in the “Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics“ exhibition at the Glass Curtain gallery in Chicago. Swing by the space to pick up the latest MOTHA newsprint broadside poster and watch the accompanying video slideshow, both entitled “Transvestism in the News,” made especially for the exhibit.

“Transvestism in the News,” the poster and video, were made using early and mid 20th century headlines from a scrap book of the same name that was assembled by transgender activist and cultural figure Louise Lawrence. This scrapbook is housed at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics

December 10, 2015 - February 13, 2016

Glass Curtain Gallery

1104 S Wabash Ave, first floor, Chicago, IL 60605

Bring Your Own Body presents the work of transgender artists and archives, from the institutional to the personal. Taking its title from an unpublished manuscript by intersex pioneer Lynn Harris, the exhibit historicizes the sexological and cultural imaginary of transgender through a curatorial exploration of historical collections, including the Kinsey Archives. Bring Your Own Body presents contemporary transgender art and world making practices that contest existing archival narratives in favor of new historical genealogies. Moving beyond the aesthetically defunct category of “identity politics” and the fraught gains of visibility, the artworks propose transgender as a set of aesthetics made manifest through multiple forms: paint, sculpture, textiles, film, digital collage, and performance.

Sexological and diagnostic histories of the clinic and the case study still reverberate in the foreclosure of transgender subjectivity. Bring Your Own Body interrogates the archive’s often violent capture of identity, mining the visual data of “transvestite” photography collected by Alfred Kinsey (1946—) and police records of transgender women of color imprisoned in the 1960s for sex work and female impersonation. Contemporary works animate the archive in their negotiation of inherited representations of transgender. Transgender is neither new nor finished, despite recent and unprecedented visibility in popular media. Bring Your Own Body presents a set of archival and aesthetic relations critical to our continued understanding of a richly textured transgender landscape.

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