Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Art Statement

Andro Gyno

Sex is a biological status, the designation of one as male or female based on anatomy and chromosomes. Gender is a social/psychological status, the designation of one as masculine or feminine based on socially and culturally defined behaviors, mannerisms, expressions, etc.

The short video Andro Gyno explores the fluid and permeable status of gender identity by subjecting a neutral body (a body read/coded as neither fully masculine or feminine) to masculinely or femininely defined poses, behaviors, etc. as a function of accessories applied to the body. In other words, the neutral body is marked/read masculine or feminine by the accessories there displayed; the body is accessorized.

A tie, hat, shoes, a scarf or combination thereof can all be read/interpreted as masculine or feminine depending on how they are arranged on the body. In turn, the body lends alternating meaning to the accessories as it responds/reacts to culturally defined stereotypes associated with each accessory.

Watching the neutral body as it responds in flux to these culturally loaded stereotypes exposes gender identity as an artificial, socially constructed, mutable category; something a body adopts rather than something inherent or natural to a body.

The viewer is introduced first to the notion of polarized gender identitites, and is then forced to quickly consider the possibility of blended gender expressions. Split screens display the neutral body as masculine and feminine simultaneously. Alternating accessories stretch the body from masculine to feminine and then back again. The erratically changing body is finally shown in the slow and meticulous act of 'putting on' a marker of anatomical maleness-facial hair.

In a matter of two minutes the neutral body transforms to a body that is now easily marked male. In the final frame, the body turns its gaze to the viewer, breaking the distance between the subject and the viewer, forcing the voyeur to see the body as 'real' and consequently gender as mutable, artificial and socially constructed.

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