- 29 June 2023
- 3 minutes
Siren Song is inspired by the intimate experiences MA Contemporary Art Practice student Joa Blumenkranz, a transfeminine person, has had with cisgender men. It deals with the ways in which trans and gender non-conforming bodies disrupt not only traditional binary notions of identity – but also desire. The project combines different elements of Joa’s practice, such as music, choreography, and costume design, and has culminated in a video piece.
Joa’s artworks are a form of crafty queer worldbuilding that merges their lived experience as a marginalised/fetishized body with a sexy fantasy world of the beyond. The metaphor of the hybrid/mutant/cyborg is often used to speculate about and express their longing for a post-gender, post-human reality.
Alone, I felt so invisible is a zine series on Femme lesbian perspectives and presence, created by MA Writing student Ollie O’Neill. The zines argue against the idea of Femme invisibility and against the removal of Femme from its cultural and historical context. They also explore Ollie’s interest in the physicality of text, and how through printmaking and collage, text becomes a process and a physical object in the world.
Ollie’s zines, and writing more broadly, are a reaction against the reduction and flattening on Lesbianism and Dykehood in its mainstream representation. She states: “I believe many of the modern depictions of Lesbianism – which are lauded by some as ‘representation’ – are attempts to put as many young women off Lesbianism as possible. My work, both in my writing and my life at large, is to do the opposite.”
For MA Fashion student Franziskus Pöschl, fashion is a self portrait. It is a means of expression, a way to create a desirable future for herself and for her community.
None of the fabric or materials Franziskus uses are bought, rather they were found in the streets, passed on from family, repurposed from previous clothes, and collected by friends. Rather than cutting fabric, she drapes and pleats a continuous piece, reducing waste and opening up the possibility for the fabric to be changed and used for future garments.
The garments she creates celebrate the joy she has found in her identity, hoping to pass on this joy. She states: “My work is inspired by the countless times my friends and I, my chosen family, got ready in messy rooms filled with random bits of fabric, feathers, and rhinestones we all collected together and as we transformed into the dreams, we never thought we could make reality.”
See Franziskus perform Desirable Futures at 18.30 on 30 June in Battersea as part of RCA2023.
Happy Together is an embroidered quilt by MA Print student Weiteng Niu, which reflects on queer identity under the structure of patriarchal heteronormativity. The quilt is an important object in the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. Traditionally it is handmade by women and decorated with symbols to bring a long marriage, fertility and the birth of a son.
Weiteng subverts these traditions to create a rebellious queer quilt, using drawing-embroidery, family group photos and ready-made decorative materials from wedding culture. The quilt is part of his wider practice which focuses on the structural relationship between queer identity, patriarchy, masculinity and East Asian family culture.
The Weird Hero is a research project and video game developed by MA Digital Direction student Niccolò Abate. It examines historical story structures and Jungian archetypes related to ‘The Hero’s Journey’, questioning if they exclude queer representation and ultimately create a difficult environment for queer protagonists to be shown and understood.
The work is divided into two parts: an online publication of research presented to receive feedback, foster continuous improvement and create a fluid environment reflecting different experiences; and a video game, “Identity”, which explores personal identity and gender's impact on daily interactions within a fantasy setting.
Together the two parts delve into the realms of exploration of self-identity, the relation between queerness and technology, and the study of how practitioners can better their communication to inform the public of societal problems.
MA Photography student Xuan Feng makes photographs through the experiences that pass through him. He is motivated to create pictorial narratives, about fluid inhabited spaces, queer mobility, and identities.
I Go With The Flow is an ongoing project, exploring the complex intersection between queer mobility, identity, and belonging within the unique context of narrow boat living. By capturing the stories and portraits of those who identify as “boat people” this project seeks to create a visual representation of the ever-evolving and fluid nature of queer identity, and how it intersects with the spaces we inhabit.
Studying MA V&A/RCA History of Design, Cas Bradbeer’s research focused on historical representations of gender nonconformity, especially in theatre. Their dissertation applied a design historical methodology to three contemporary theatrical representations of a Jacobean gender non-conforming figure known as Moll Cutpurse. They analysed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s feminist production of The Roaring Girl (2014), and two shows performed by drag kings at Shakespeare’s Globe – Moll and The Future Kings (2019) and A Note to Mary Frith (2020).
These case studies exemplify how theatrical practitioners can achieve inclusive platforms for marginalised histories by creatively repurposing the collective memory of gender non-conforming historical figures like Moll, and thereby can empower those who share these marginalised identities.