Dalila Ali Rajah
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PHOTOS: Racy, Experimental Art from the Transgender Vanguard

PHOTOS: Racy, Experimental Art from the Transgender Vanguard

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. >>>

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Elliot Montague


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