Yesterday I drew this self portrait: it was the first one I’ve done in four years. The last time I drew one was a year in which I was more distant from my body than any other time in my life, and distant with everyone else’s bodies as a result. The last self-portrait I drew was monstrous and cruel and full of a complete lack of hope for possibility of any future burgeoning. This wasn’t just about gender, but a lot of it was.
Drawing myself was useful in a way that felt only comparable to a feeling of witnessing being seen by someone who really digs you: that they’re a more honest mirror of who you are than the photographs, gaze of most of the rest of the world, doctors, blabla….
So, yesterday I put out an ask for trans* folks who are interested in being drawn to send me photographs to use as reference. I want to stress that what I’m saying includes people that identify as genderqueer, nonbinary, pangender, genderfluid, everything. There’s no “trans enough” going on with this, which is also coming from someone that knows how much presentation and privilege matter and who is thinking about how beauty and realness and worth are assessed and prioritized.
For a long time whenever I drew people I drew them as shadows, or ghosts, or an attempt at drawing genderless humanoids that ultimately just felt abstract and as though they were helplessly assisting in the construction of monumentalist beauty standards. I refrained from drawing anyone in their specificity, both out of fear of getting them wrong but also the fear of really trying to be present and see somebody. I think that I excused drawing specific people as a way to attempt to democratize my art work, to make it inclusive, and to keep it vague to the point that it was enterable from many standpoints. At this point, I’m becoming interested in specifics.
In reality, I think that what was going on was not an attempt at a gender politics of inclusion, but rather, an unwillingness to attempt to become present in my own body that played out as a refusal to actually examine the ways in which I wanted to experience the sensation of being me.
I’m really exhausted from coming up with clever reasons for why it’s OK to be the person I am, and really sick of being forced, both by other’s and my own internalization of a network of institutional repression of queer imagination, to have to negotiate labyrinths that are constructed by patriarchs and their cronies to get to some moment of actualization, to be able to answer the question of what and how I am I came to be.
In the context of these processes of self-actualization that are now indelibly linked with TDOV, I am also thinking about the ways in which my process of actualization and visualization are supported by the infrastructures of whiteness, thinness, and androgeny. I think that this post about who benefits from visibility and who doesn’t is really good.
I want to be here with other people when I’m here. Mostly for a long time I’ve just felt weird and alone and unloveable, so starting to be in a place where I feel like maybe I’m not a twisted evil bad-weird creature is something that would feel cool to feel with other people. I don’t have many tools for that right now other than talking to people and making art, but I have those things, and this feels like a way that I can share them with the folks that I feel like are just slightly removed family. If you want me to draw a portrait of you, please send me a message with some pictures. It would be best if you sent them to my email so I can keep track of them. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t promise that I’ll be rapid in response times, but I can say that I feel really committed to doing this for as long as it feels sustainable.
In the future we may eat very ood food, and some soniced food too:
It’s well documented how the appearance of food and its smell influence what we eat, but the effect sound has on taste is an expanding area of research. A recent study by scientists at Oxford University found certain tones could make things taste sweeter or more bitter.
“No experience is a single sense experience,” says Russell Jones, from sonic branding company Condiment Junkie, who were involved in the study. “So much attention is paid to what food looks like and what it smells like, but sound is just as important.”Read more