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Ace Lehner presents paper on the work of trans-non binary performance artist Travis Alabanza at the College Art Association Conference in NYC

February 2019
March 28, 2019

Poignantly, one thing trans self-representations are beginning to make clear is that binary gender, racism and a cultural belief in the ability of representations of people to transmit information about them, are all deeply enmeshed and rooted in the colonial project, which continues to set up visual culture in ways that uphold Caucasian supremacist, heteropatriarchal, binary, value systems.

A brief art historical approach to considering mainstream cultural representations of trans femininity reveals that such representations have been and continue to reify dominant cultural ideas about gender and identities. Transmasculine people have rarely appeared in dominant visual culture while trans feminine people have periodically been the subject of mainstream cultural fascination. The ensuing representations of trans femininity are problematically at once rooted in art historical traditions of feminine people as objects of the gaze and dominant cultural beliefs that trans femmes are spectacularizations of femininity. 

In Trans Representations: Non-Binary Visual Theory in Contemporary Art Photography Lehner discusses the politics of the history of trans femme representations and delves into how ideas about gender and racialization are sutured to bodies in a moment they describe as the "visual encounter," and, perhaps most significantly, Lehner attends to the ways trans self-representations are intervening in contemporary art and visual culture.

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