2018 is a moment of increased visibility for trans* people; recent cultural shifts see far more representation across the media, governance, and health care. Yet, these appearances are more suggestive of the trappings of a visibility designed more so as "teaching tools" for those outside the trans* or queer communities. Trans* visibility has become another advertisement for the Modern State, promoting assimilation, heterosexuality, militarization, and the growth of private sector health care at the loss of queer radicality. Trans* visibility should acknowledge the lived archive.
It is still challenging to locate an entirely trans*-specific history, or physical evidence of a past prior to these sudden and current "revelations” of visibility. The work in this program addresses the erasure of rich legacies of trans* and queer activism and art by creating artworks that revisit and re-imagine these stories. Mining existing archives and creating new ones, Unearthing Trans* Legacies proposes alternative modes of retrieving and disseminating a trans* past through an erotic gaze and experiments in form and narrative storytelling. Defiantly looking towards a future of pleasure, sincerity, and beauty; these works place trans* sexual expression and resistance in conversation with a non-linear idea of history, that is both real and fabricated, to address how limited evidence of a past shapes our understandings of the present.
While the worlds of the films, while very much in the present, are imbued with a queer futurity and not solely “buddy films”, the core of each film is a relationship between two people on a “masculine” spectrum. According to Robert Kolker in a Cinema of Loneliness, “The buddy complex views sexuality as an obstacle to manly acts. But this denial of sexuality carries a covert admission of the possibility of homosexuality, which, of course, is inadmissible.” Obviously, that is not of concern in these films. With that concern out of the way, what do these films say about fantasy, trauma, whiteness, and language through relations built on exchanges of tenderness and curiosity?
A monthly series of Queer artist talks in Portland, OR that ran from 2009-2011.