Not often do art performance shows come with their own disclaimer but as the title suggests, Trigger Warning alerts queers that if what you’re about to experience is too hot to handle, then you’d better get of out of the kitchen.
But instead of trying to apologize and put everyone back into their comfort zone, Trigger Warning forced viewers to examine the reality of transgendered lives by reclaiming the discussion on body, gender identity and the loss behind self censorship.
Curated by FTM transgendered artist, Leon Mostovoy, whose new book Transfigure will soon be released by Transgress Press, Trigger Warning presented an interesting mix of transgendered artists and performers at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.
Film featured large with showings of Heather Cassils’ Fast Twitch// Slow Twitch, a dual-screen exploration of body and self; Elliot Montague’s Well Dressed, a highly personal reflection on female-to-male transition and the physicality of top surgery; Zackary Drucker’s At Least You Know You Exist, a richly layered look at the emotional baggage that comes with body image and sexuality; and Silas Howard’s Sticks & Stones, a biopic on infamous San Francisco transsexual street hustler, Bambi Lake, who shares anecdotes about 1970s Polk Street where Bambi performed, turned tricks and earned her notoriety.
Film installations included Rhys Ernst’s Secret Men’s Club and Kris Grey’s Suspicious Packages while several copies of Transfigure were on hand to play with. Mimicking a children’s flip book, Transfigure features multiple photos of naked bodies which are then divided and rearranged into three parts — head, torso and lower body. Readers can create any combination of gender and body type – which mix up or match our perceptions on gender stereotypes.
Topped off with performances by the beautiful and sexy Bollywood dancer Maya Jafer and original acoustic songs from Shawna Virago, Trigger Warning was not so much a night of buyer beware, but queers be aware.
As Shawna summed it up, “If you want to hide and pass, then you can, that’s fine, but for those of us who want to be out and challenging, we will. We don’t have a language to identify gender. So we’ll create one.”
Trigger Warning appeared one night only, Saturday August 2, 2014 at Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica
© 2014 Tanya Dewhurst