The body as social sculpture.
Art historian David Getsy writes extensively about the ways in which abstract forms have been utilized by queer and trans artists to express a queer “stance,” i.e., a way of being in the world and being in relation to others “without recourse to the representation of bodies,” as he phrases it in “Appearing Differently: Abstraction’s Transgender and Queer Capacities,” a conversation between him and William J. Simmons. “Recourse to representation” references the demands made of trans people in their art, walking down the street, and in a courtroom: demands for legible bodily representation, for surveilling eyes to know their “biological” bodies, essences, or truths—whatever the hell that means. Straight-up representation of the body is not the only expressive tactic and often not the best one; maybe manifestations of “stance” can do more. Artist and performer Cassils formally builds their “stance” out of glass, bronze, clay, gold paint, and fire. But a refusal of an easily legible body representation does not mean these works are not infused and saturated with the bodily: the glass orbs hung from the ceiling of Cassil’s current exhibition, MONUMENTAL, at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts are filled with their actual breaths, a large glass cube at the center of the exhibition holds their yellow-orange urine, and a bronzed clay tower registers the marks of their fingers and toes. Photo and video documentation of the body-based making of these abstracted forms hangs on the surrounding walls. What is and isn’t “bodily” here is not so clear. What makes a “queer form” is not so clear.[ Read More ]