Monster Factory: Experiments from a 2nd Year Queer
CONFIGURE’D/TICKLE ME MONSTRO
“It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
With ‘transness’ comes an inherent ‘thingness’. Prying eyes glance across the sink, eyeing for a bulge. Brows furrow as a men’s 36 crosses the fitting room threshold. A constant open forum wages over whether us monsters, who decry the laws of nature to change form, deserve the rights of man. A core tenant of queer activism is reclaimation, to harness the ‘monstorus’ power placed at our feet. What power comes from the label ‘horrific’, and where can that expand vocabulary to discuss our experience? To horrify is to defy, a frontal attack on the norm. With this guiding principle I become Frankenstien’s monster, alive! with form, activating visceral life in the trans body.
‘she’ slips out, a glance coyly awaiting furor. Mouth becomes pudendum as discharge slops down my chin. Conversation garbles in the background as genital awareness dominates. Our world devolves into a bubbling mass of penises and breasts as hunters zero in on those who defy binary. So exposing yet so humorous, a world your pisser defines! Is this how we navigate space? Do cats and coffee mugs, street posts and butter knives explode with genital flavour? Portraying monstrosity as dysphoria extending past a misgendered subject, I draw myself as objects and animals with sentient eyes and bulging genitals. Is this any less absurd than the constant gender expectations placed upon us? Perhaps. The monstrosity boils and bubbles as the characters abstract. Is this a fish with an anus staring at me? Or is that fin an extension of the testicles? Who knows! Viewers work to decipher eyeballs from breasts as the question of compulsory binary remains.
But there’s something missing! While my paper and marker tools relate to the everyday prevalence of gender labels, where is the goo? The ick? The bodily tissue and fluid that pour from my ever-visible orifice? The creature demands flesh to come alive! My monsters are ripped and reconfigured, stitched to dried lemon slices. Combining the ‘feminine’ art of embroidery with the hulking mass of monster, lines between ‘natural’ and ‘person-made’ become physically entangled. Fruit meat clogs the needle like blood in a stitcher. Just as I amalgamate myself with mens boxers, sultry lip gloss, and a soon-to-be-stitched chest, my beasts are born as tethered smatterings of gendered language, material, and imagery. They grow and combine and overtake one another, dripping off their framing. With hopes of a nuclear waste accident or lightning-powered lab experiment in their future, my chimeras dream of days where they dominate space and viewer in scale.
Hosts of folx across a variety of marginalized groups have questioned whether to embrace or deny harmful labels put upon them. Should we become the monster they claim us to be? My work asks, why not? The history of horror is one that plays with the taboo and repressed. What happens when the monster becomes so confident, powerful, and self-assured that they cannot be defeated? Is this beast your friend, neighbor, a person in your community just trying to live as you are?. My monster mash leads me to ideas about how these amalgams can morph in the studio. Will my monsters become larger than life? Are they paper, or plastic, or plush? Where does the work become performative or educational? As I continue these studio-apartment-sized experiments, I imagine my monsters becoming Kaiju that attack gender norms with the ferocity of Godzilla’s Tokyo siege.