Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics

Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College

Zackary Drucker, Southern for Pussy (film still), 2015. Courtesy of the artist.
October 15, 2016
Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics

October 21–December 11, 2016

Opening and conversation with curators:
Friday, October 21, 4:30–7:30pm

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
Haverford College
370 Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, PA 19041
Hours: Monday–Friday 11am–5pm,
Saturdays–Sundays noon–5pm,
Wednesday until 8pm

T 610 896 1287

Bring Your Own Body presents the work of transgender artists and archives, from the institutional and sexological to the personal and liminal. After exhibiting in New York City and Chicago last year, the exhibit moves to Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery; a program of performance, film, and artists and scholars in conversation, spanning several Philadelphia area venues, will accompany and expand on the exhibition’s conceptual and political stakes.

Taking its title from an unpublished manuscript by intersex pioneer Lynn Harris, Bring Your Own Body historicizes the sexological and cultural imaginary of transgender through a curatorial exploration of historical collections, including the Kinsey Archives. The exhibition presents contemporary transgender art and world making practices that contest 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 as well as newsletters and ephemera of self-identified trans communities. Transvestism in the News (2015), a digital collage made by Chris E. Vargas after a visit to the Kinsey archives, repurposes sensational news headlines from the 1940s–60s about “gender deviance.”

Several artists interrogate the intersections of historical taxonomy and lived experience. Justin Vivian Bond constructs an intimate study of beauty and the search for the “transchild” in watercolor diptychs of the artist and model Karen Graham in My Model / MySelf (2015). Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s polaroids and collages, made with partner Lady Jaye, express the couple’s savage resistance to the “tyranny of DNA” and a commitment to deconstructing the fiction of self. Early, radical artists working in and around gender and performance are included, including handwritten text by the mother of “terrorist drag,” Vaginal Davis; ephemera from the archive of legendary drag queen Flawless Sabrina; and photographs by Surrealist outlier Pierre Molinier. Sculptures by Math Bass and Buzz Slutzky explore relationships between bodily absurdity and physical materials. Works from the estates of Mark Aguhar and Effy Beth, many of which are on view for the first time, recognize formidable accomplishments within too-brief careers and gesture to the importance of digital communities mobilized by young artists.

niv Acosta, Mark Aguhar, Math Bass, Effy Beth, Justin Vivian Bond, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Vaginal Davis, Zackary Drucker, Chloe Dzubilo, Greer Lankton, Pierre Molinier, Genesis P. Orridge, Flawless Sabrina, Buzz Slutzky, and Chris E. Vargas and the Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art

Public programs

Saturday, October 22, 4pm
Performance by niv Acosta
Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
Supported by the Leeway Foundation

Thursday, October 27
Queer Genealogies of the Normal pt. 1

Keynote Lecture: “In Treatment: Psychiatry and the Archives of Modern Sexuality”
Talk by Regina Kunzel
Chase Auditorium, Haverford College

Screening of The Queen (1968)
International House Philadelphia

Friday, October 28
Queer Genealogies of the Normal pt. 2
*All events at Haverford College

With Lisa Darms, Johanna Fateman, Heather K. Love, Gayle Salamon, Kyla Schuller, and Tuesday Smillie

Monday, December 5, 7:30pm
Happy Birthday, Marsha! Conversation with Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel
Chase Auditorium, Haverford College


Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics was curated by Jeanne Vaccaro with Stamatina Gregory and organized for The Cooper Union. BYOB is presented by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College.

Additional support for Bring Your Own Body has been provided by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University; the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; International House Philadelphia; Penn Humanities Forum; the Leeway Foundation; the University of Pennsylvania Departments of English and Art; the University of Victoria Transgender Archives; Haverford College Libraries; the Haverford College Women*s Center; and Independent College Programs, Health Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Concentration in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights at Haverford College.


Press contact: Matthew Seamus Callinan, Associate Director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Campus Exhibitions, at T 610 896 1287 or [email protected].


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October 15, 2016

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