The After-Image is an evocation of the artist’s lived experience of being transgender through multimedia installation. The two-channel video component documents an endurance performance that was done in the dark with only the flash of a photographer’s camera capturing images. The performance involved the artist erasing 6 large-scale self-portraits, the remnants of which comprise the second component of the work. Employing the concept of the after-image (the shadow of an image that remains on the retina after the initial stimulus has ceased) the video uses photographs from the performance, editing, strobe-like flickering and sound as methods to articulate the trans experience. While trans visibility has gained traction over the past few years, these representations of transness have focused on the majority of trans identities being a two-part process from one gender to another through physical transition. The artist’s identity does not mirror these representations and in the process is erased. The After-Image co-opts the tools of their oppression, and investigates various methods of erasure as a way to regain power over their own image.
Like the after-image, my transness exists between two states – what is here and what is no longer present. It is illusive, fleeting and transitory. It is defined by persistence, slipperiness, disappearance and loss; attempts to immobilise it are futile. It will always push towards the limitlessness of invisibility — its destination will always be the unseen and immaterial. It is filled “with the intention to be lost” (Muñoz, 2009 pg. 72). My transness flickers beyond my image and past my body. It is located in the act of disappearing and I find home in the process of slipping through society’s attempts to make sense of my existence — my self-acceptance rests within the ephemeral and I thrive in gestures of resistance.
This work was awarded first place in the Midsumma and Australia Post Art Prize 2019
Images by Rémi Chauvin