Content warning: Reading this may make your head explode and features descriptions of hardcore pornography.
Audience was mainly young women, many on the path of transition, but also ‘cis allies’. Mainly university students. There was a disco and bar, so suspect many were coming for that, rather than the exhibit. This is the culture you find yourself in now if you’re a young lesbian or a gender adherent, to reject it is to cut yourself off from peers. Ugly Duck, the hosting venue, is in Bermondsey, a place where Lottery scratch cards sell in their thousands. These art organisations are most comfortable when real poverty is close by, but aren’t there for the locals. The exhibitor, the Otherness Archive received Arts Council England funding for this project, i.e. taxpayer and National Lottery money.
The blurby bit
A Trans Masculine Moving Image Exhibit; a wide range of work focusing on the nuances of the trans masc experience.
Otherness Archive presents a selection of moving image work from both international and national filmmakers and artists who submitted to our open call as well as films found by our researchers. The intention of this archival project and exhibit is to create potential ideas and thoughts on what a trans masc archive could look like. Additionally, to document the process of constructing an archive, rebuilding an archive, assembling an archive and how it can act as a living resource for our community.
*trans masc refers to the nuances of the trans masc experience in moving image work and to variations of masculinity’s including but not limited to trans men, non-binary, dyke, butch and gender non-conforming peopleFrom Eventbrite
Through our recent Arts Council grant, we will be launching a sustainable digital publicly accessible archive focused on core categories. The first to these categories is dedicated to the trans masc experience, to be launched in November 2022.Otherness archive leaflet with Arts Council logo on, given out at door
Offside Installation, Marlowe Mitchell
Video featured young woman on testosterone talking about the girls’ football team she plays on, her father the coach. Ha ha, he he, we aren’t any good. Ha ha, he he, we come bottom of the league. Ha ha, he he, – see, trans people don’t ruin sport. Some of us are even really shit at it too, just like our team. Ha ha, he he.
Film featuring butch lesbian couple looking uncomfortable together, one with her arms wrapped around the other, in a display of domination. Difficult to hear the audio but did manage to gather that the dominant one, who did all the talking, had nothing worth sharing.
Didn’t watch the silent works which were projected up high on a small screen as it required a head tilt up to watch them. Not doing that. Soz.
The Quiet One, Cat Jones – USA 2021
Though have since whisked through video above. Don’t actually recall seeing it in the space so think that may have been a mistake on literature, but its standard is entirely befitting of exhibition, so have included it here.
Compliance, Iona Roisin – Finland 2020
Couldn’t hear the narration at all, it being drowned out by the sex noises coming from the Dark Room. It’s a camera panning over a river with the reflection of trees. You can watch an excerpt here. Turns out I didn’t miss anything.
Smoke Machine, Lion and Jeep, Romeo Roxman Gatt – Malta 2021
Woman dressed one half male clothes, other half female, bit like Two-Face. Jumped about a lot on a football field. Then danced in club. She has energy, I’ll give her that. A live filmed performance, jushed up a bit, is here. Actually quite hilarious in a toe curling way if you want a bit of light relief before we head into the harder darker stuff.
Sissy Fatigue, WET MESS – UK 2019
Only technically competent film of collection. Wet Mess is the alter ego of female drag performance artist Olivia Norris, who is pretty mesmerising, I have to say. Surely ‘sissy fatigue’ hints at sissy hynoporn though, right? (Sometimes wish I didn’t know these things.) It is well made and performed, with some inventive elements and a bit scary. Message about the boy child is a bit worrying though, as is his actual appearance in the film. Is he a sacrifice? Genuinely don’t understand (or maybe too much). Funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, i.e. the great and the good.
Fine I’ll Do It Myself, Claye Bowler – UK 2020
Woman sat in corner of a room with a clay booby thing held up against her and chipped away at her boobies with a hammer and chisel. Subtle metaphor here. Sound of chiseling did drown out the sex noises from the Dark Room though, so not entirely awful.
Being Real BY Not Being Real, Fleur Bloemsma – Portugal 2022
The cry heard a hundred times before, I just want to be myself (but being myself involves radically altering my body permanently). Fleur’s take on that is this; Being real by not being real. As per usual, the cry of gender dysphoria is contradicted by photos in revealing clothes, suggestive of cultic compliance. Fleur is currently crowdfunding for her bilateral mastectomy surgery and identifies as non-binary.
Ripping out the womb and other things, Cole Payce – UK 2020
Very short animation blood red in palette and featured lots of what I would call feminine drawings, i.e. curvy soft lines, warm colours, cutesy mushrooms like images. Insect flying off as a metaphor for the womb being ripped out depressing as hell though. Funded through the University of Arts (or a similar, didn’t quite catch it).
Dark Room (18+)
As well as the films projected onto wall, there was also a laptop in corner. Briefly turned to watch it (really was a case of not knowing where to look) black women with collars around their necks and chains attached were engaging in BDSM. Glad the exhibit kept things diverse and intersectional. Black Lives Matter, don’t they?
The French Boys, Genevieve Kuzak – France 2021
Two trans-identified females, one having had mastectomy and testosterone, and one on the path wearing a binder, having sex. They engage in what they believe is ‘bottom’ and ‘top’ gay male behaviour. ‘Top’ chokes ‘bottom’ and spits on her. Walked out after the spitting. Woman who made the film goes by handle ‘sadisticboyhunter’ on Instagram. The trailer is here (discovered on watching trailer there is fisting, I shit you not, so be aware).
Transmasc Bro Fourgy, Jamal Phoenix, Stevie Trixx, Apollo Moon, Austin Spears – USA 2022
Four young women with bilateral mastectomies and obvious testosterone changes fuck each other. In particular they suck on each others’ hormonally enlarged clitorises. That’s it. Except not quite, they’re wearing American Football type shoulder pads for some reason. Left when a very close up shot of Jamal Phoenix’s anus was fixated on (also the star of the porn short further down).
Fly Hole, Malic Amalya – USA 2018
Animation which tells a story of sex by deception when a trans-identified female passes as a man in a gay sex club. It’s pure fantasy of course, at no point do we believe it. Will give her two blobs though, one for the sound design and another for the art. Ironic that the character talks about love, pretty sure that’s not a feature of the Dark Room/Glory Hole scene. Also very depressing her view of the vagina as a ‘fly hole’ with associated buzzing sounds, like you might hear off a pile of shit. You can watch an excerpt of the animation here. Exceptionally grim.
His Favourite Tboy, Jamal Phoenix, Ramsès Troie – France 2021
Really quite telling that the ‘trans masc experience’ of sex in porn looks absolutely no different to that experienced by a woman who doesn’t claim a gender identity. Just to be clear Ramsès Troie is a man, a ‘professional’ in the sex industry. Room it was filmed in had prison cell aesthetic and some of the footage was taken by Troie on his mobile, you can imagine of what. Troie, a bloody huge bloke, relentlessly fucks Phoenix, a tiny woman. Deep throating, slapping, spitting, and anal all performed with unrelenting violent thrusting by Troie, Phoenix being just a series of fuck holes for him. I have no words. Well, some. Arts Council England funding. The rest probably aren’t printable.
Where did all the gender euphoria go?
Most of the films were simply crappy at a technical level and, as we all know, anyone who can hold a camera can make a porn film. This is not difficult. Similarly we can all film something inane and then drone on in a self-important tone over that imagery. There was no nuance, as promised in the blurb, and I saw no one talk about any benefits of the ‘trans masc’ experience.
So, what did we have? Porn which celebrated the fuckability of ‘fly holes’, wailings about the hatred of breasts, and an idiotic fool laughing about female sport. The one intellectually stimulating film, which I had hoped was somehow a clever reverse commentary on the parasitic nature of opposite sex ideation, was dashed by a visit to Wet Mess’ Instagram account (I know, what is wrong with me?), which confirmed ‘they’ are a humour-free zone.
This may be the understatement of the year but there was a very noticeable lack of joy among any of the pieces. When I say lack, I really mean completely devoid of any beauty, self-respect, intelligence or humour whatsoever. As in, I didn’t find a single redeemable thing here. Transgender culture celebrates ugliness, decay and death and only narcissists thrive in it. It’s a cesspit of amorality. Not only that, it’s stupid, very very stupid.
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