Artist review: Trans identities and feminism

In honor of this month’s theme Transidenties and feminism, we will highlight four different trans artists who are working hard for the rights of trans people.

Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

The visual art of this couple points out real-life issues of trans people. Zackary Drucker focusses mainly on installation, performance and film. She believes that it is a political responsibility to tell stories about trans history in her art. In her recent short-film Mother Comes to Venus, she explores in a futuristic way how post-gender Hollywood would look like. Rhys Ernst is mainly a producer. His Emmy-nominated series This is Me shows the different struggles that trans people deal with every day. Together they produced the series Transparent, which follows the life of a transwoman and her family.

The couple were together from 2008 till 2014. In this period, Drucker transitioned from male to female and Ernst transitioned from female to male. A collection of photographs taken through the years show their relationship and how they dealt with the changing times. These photographs became an important public record of transgender life, as they wanted to show that trans people can live ‘ordinary’ life with love as well, something that was not showed often before. Shortly after these were shown in the Whitney Biennial in 2014 they split up, but they always remained friendly.

Antony & The Johnsons

The lead singer Anohni established the American band in 1998, which she named after the transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson. Besides Anohni, the band consists of violists, cellist, drummer and guitarists. Their music is described as hypnotizing, soft rock. Their breakthrough was due to the support of Lou Reed, who brought Anohni on tour for backing vocals. He described her voice as an angel, and duetted with her on ‘Candy Says’.

The band is a cornerstone for transgender rights. Their songs are about identity, liberation and transformation. They also brought multiple transgender women with them on tour. In that way, they challenged the ordinary perception of feminine beauty of their audience.

Anohni, a trans-woman herself, also puts a lot of her own experiences with gender into her works. In the song ‘For Today I am a Boy’, she sings about a trans-girl who is prior her transition: ‘One day I’ll grow up, I’ll be a beautiful woman. But for today I am a child, for today I am a boy.’ In her soft hypnotizing voice you can hear her sadness, but also her hopefulness that she will be confident and fulfilled.

After the last studio album of the band called ‘Swanlights’ in 2010, Anohni debuted with her individual album in 2016, under her new name. She always used ‘Anohni’ in her personal life, but in the media she was formerly known as Antony Hergati. This album called ‘Hopelessness’ focused not only on identy, but also on climate change and politics. In 2016, Anohni even became the first transgender person to be nominated for the Oscars in 30 years.

Yishay Garbasz

The Berlin-based visual artist works mostly in war and disaster areas, which she processes in her art ‘to make the invisible visible’. The trauma of her mother in WW II was explored by Garbasz by a photo collection of all the places her mother went to. She also explores nationalism and the borders of it, literally. Using electric fences and wires she makes flags of countries who are, in her opinion, neo-fascists.

Besides the political side of her art, she also puts her own experience as a transwomen in the spotlights. In Becoming: A Gender Flipbook, she pictured herself through the years of her transformation. She showed it in a human-scaled zoetrope, which she got awarder for the Berlin Woman Filmmaker of the Year.

She also focusses on sport, and how overweight people are not supported. In her project Triathlon Activist, she decided to become a thriatlete, a sport that is very exclusive and privileged space. By that she became Germany’s first trans woman triathlete.

For more trans artist, you can check out the twitter account: @Trans_Artists. Every day they post a unknown young trans artist!

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