Time Lapse (Front) 2011, detail: Day 1, Day 160. Part of the six month durational performance CUTS: A TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE. 2011. Photos By Heather Cassils.
PHOTOS: Racy, Experimental Art from the Transgender Vanguard

By Mitch Kellaway

Originally published on Advocate.com August 02 2014 3:01 AM ET

From its title alone, it's easy to tell that "TRIGGER WARNING!!: A Night of Trans-Genre Art by Transgender Artists" intends to push the envelope.

Pulling the trigger at 8 p.m. tonight in Santa Monica, Calif.'s Highways Performance Space, the show hopes to get the audience's eyes open and juices flowing.

An eclecitc collection of imagery, film, art installation, dance, and music curated by trans photographer Leon Mostovoy, "TRIGGER WARNING!!" features celebrated names in transgender art like filmmaker Silas Howard, performance artist Shawna Virago, and up-and-comers including Heather Cassils, Zackary Drucker, Maya Jafer, Kris Grey, Pony Lee Estrange, and more. 

Of his own collection, "Transfigure," Mostovoy explains, "[it's] a project of corporeal self-expresssion, presented as an experimental, visual feast. The imagery portrays the complexity of gender and bodies and the ways in which these combinations may be surprising."

Surprising, indeed: the images include full-frontal nudity. While trans people, including, famously, Laverne Cox, steer cultural conversations away from discussing genitals and gender-confirming surgeries, as a trans artist Mostovoy sees his role as one of approaching the same conversation differently.

"I'm showing full nudity to help eradicate transphobia and internalized transphobia," he explains to The Advocate. "So when people look at the images, they see themselves, they see gender as fluid, [they] do not feel isolated and shamed, or that their bodies are not 'right' or 'complete.'"

"Nudity is a visual way to demonstrate raw strength with confrontational, but pure, force," he continues. "It says 'I'm here; you can look. I am proud!'

"The project changes the question of 'What's in my pants?' to 'You can see what's in my pants, but that doesn't define my gender.' ... [This] challenges the mainstream of old-guard gays and trans folks; it challenges the participants as much, if not more, than the audience to see that one doesn't 'know' what creates a 'man' or 'woman.' One doesn't know for sure what genitalia fits with what gender."

Check out the (NSFW) images from Mostovoy's series, as well as several of the other trigger warning-worthy artists below and on the following pages. >>>

Elliot Montague

Fast Twitch Slow Twitch. Assembled video stills from a two-channel video installation. Part of the six-month durational performance CUTS: A TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE. 2011. By Heather Cassils.

Fast Twitch Slow Twitch. Assembled video stills from a two-channel video installation. Part of the six-month durational performance CUTS: A TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE. 2011. By Heather Cassils. 

Fast Twitch Slow Twitch. Video still from one channel of a two-channel video installation. Part of the six-month durational performance CUTS: A TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE. 2011. By Heather Cassils. 

Time Lapse (Front) 2011, detail: Day 1, Day 160. Part of the six-month durational performance CUTS: A TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE. 2011. Photos By Heather Cassils. Original grid (40X60 inches)

Kris Grey, Suspicious Packages 1

Kris Grey, Suspicious Packages 2

Kris Grey, Suspicious Packages 3

Kris Grey, Suspicious Packages 4

Maya Jafer

Maya Jafer

Pony Lee Estrange

Find explicit nude images on the following page. 

The images below come from Mostovoy's "Transfigure" series, and include full-frontal nude imagery of several transgender individuals, presented as a way to challenge the presumption that what's in someone's pants defines who they are. 

"Nudity is a visual way to demonstrate raw strength with confrontational, but pure, force," Mostovoy reminds viewers. "It says 'I'm here; you can look. I am proud!'

"The project changes the question of 'What's in my pants?' to 'You can see what's in my pants, but that doesn't define my gender.' ... [This] challenges the mainstream of old-guard gays and trans folks; it challenges the participants as much, if not more, than the audience to see that one doesn't 'know' what creates a 'man' or 'woman.' One doesn't know for sure what genitalia fits with what gender."

See the explicit photos below. 

Rhys Ernst

Shawna Virago by Lydia Daniller

Shawna Virago by Lydia Daniller

Silas Howard, Sticks and Stones, Bambi Lake Story

Silas Howard, Sticks and Stones, Bambi Lake Story

Silas Howard, Sticks and Stones, Bambi Lake Story

Silas Howard, Sticks and Stones, Bambi Lake Story

Zackary Drucker, At Least You Know You Exist

Zackary Drucker, At Least You Know You Exist

Zackary Drucker, At Least You Know You Exist

Zackary Drucker, At Least You Know You Exist

Contributor: 
Mitch Kellaway