Tash van Schaardenburg

Gender Alchemy

Art has the potential to be a powerful vehicle for expressing identity. It could be pondered whether it even has the means to not merely express, but also to create new forms of being. When queer art practice represents honest and unflinching expressions of identities that sit on the fringes of what is considered legible and undermine the status quo, they can enlighten us on manifestations of experience that are overlooked by superficial understandings of sexuality and gender. Is this simply a lesson (on identity), or simultaneously a creation of these identities through the minds of those who have not considered, viewed and understood these forms prior?

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Through artistic articulations precarious bodies and hidden identities can be plucked from the edges and pushed towards visibility whilst taking control of their own epistemology and knowledge production. This mode of thinking has developed into the explorative query of my practice this year, focussed on my own non-binary identity and speaking through these works both metaphorically and literally. This exploration has been multifaceted as an intellectual delve into queer and gender theory, of personal introspection and of a range of mediums which I had never worked in before (film, sculpture, painting, written word). The nature of these works are visceral, spiritual and at times morbid depictions of self. However in their nature they can also be a representation of any person with whom their subject relates: an ode to all alive and also to the fallen bodies of the past, those that sat in shame and silence for all too long.

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The works displayed below were presented within a publication which accompanied this exhibition. They represent a more humorous attitude towards my area of exploration: one which parodies and challenges binary genders. They encourage the relaxation of gender norms through participatory works and a series of photographs documenting myself as radical drag personas that tantalise and confuse the viewer.

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