niv Acosta (b. 1988, New York; lives New York)
niv Acosta is a dance artist, educator, black Dominican, transexual, queer native New Yorker. He attended the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance (NYC), American Dance Festival (Duke Univ.) and CalArts (Dance BFA). In 2010 niv received an Art and Social Change Grant from The Leeway Foundation with which he presented two solo works titled “denzel” and “denzel prelude” at Studio 34 in Philadelphia. He moved back to New York and presented “denzel superstructure” through Movement Research Open Performance (NYC) and The Community Education Center (Philadelphia, PA). In 2011 niv was accepted into the Fresh Tracks Residency Program through New York Live Arts. During the residency he presented and developed two works. “denzel again” was presented at New York Live Arts in December of 2011. niv presented “denzel mini petite bathtub happy meal” (2012) at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (Upstart Festival), and Danspace Project (Draftworks). niv then presented “excerpt hearts” (2012), an under-rehearsed cover band, at The Meulensteen Gallery (group show), The Tank, and Danspace Project (Ralph Lemon’s, “Marathon. The End”). In the same year niv traveled “denzel mini petite bathtub happymeal” to Pieter Performance Space in Los Angeles. Later in 2012 niv presented a solo work, “the panther”, at MOMA PS1, and after, began developing the final installment of the “denzel series”, titled, “i shot denzel”. i shot denzel was presented in various stages at Center for Performance Research (2012), 92nd Street Y, Judson Memorial Church (2013), MOMA PS1, Abrons Arts Center, Human Resources (Los Angeles), and New York Live Arts (2014). Since the close of the “denzel series,” niv has been working on a new project expanding on his interests in sci-fi, astronomy, and disco. He’s presented two solo works titled “cosmic muck” and “inner disco” at Vox Populi in Philadelphia and at The Studio Museum in Harlem. niv has collaborated with artists Malik Gaines, Alexandro Segade, Andrea Geyer, A.K. Burns, and Ralph Lemon.
Mark Aguhar (b. 1987, Houston; d. Chicago, 2012)
Aguhar was an activist and multimedia fine artist known for her multidisciplinary work about gender, beauty and the confrontation of white hegemony. As an MFA student at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) she made an extensive body of work, including performance-based pieces, watercolors, collages, photography, and zines, and found and mobilized community through her online presence and prolific blogging. As Tumblr user “calloutqueen,” she titled her blog “BLOGGING FOR BROWN GURLS,” posting her irreverent take on the intersection of sexuality, racism, and community through her photographs, videos, axioms, and poems, such as “Litany for my beautiful brown body.” Her faculty and peers at UIC organized to grant Aguhar a posthumous MFA following her death in Chicago, Illinois, on March 12, 2012.
Math Bass (b. 1981, New York; lives Los Angeles)
The Los Angeles-based artist Math Bass began her career primarily as a performance artist, but she has since expanded her practice to include painting, sculpture, and video. Bass, who explores a myriad of themes in her work, is broadly interested in playing with the tension between movement and containment. Her compositions feature ambiguous content, lending themselves to different interpretations of the same image. Bass’s work has been exhibited at Overduin & Co., Los Angeles; Michael Jon, Miami; Chapter NY, New York; Wallspace, New York; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Laurel Gitlen, New York; and Silberkuppe, Berlin; among others. Bass was also featured in the 2012 Hammer Museum Biennial, Made in L.A. She received her MFA from UCLA.
Effy Beth (b. 1989 Israel; d. 2014, Buenos Aires)
Having, in her words, “quit the greatest privilege: being male,” Argentine performance artist Elizabeth Mia “Effy” Chorubczyk made “Una nueva artista necesita usar el baño” (A new artist needs to use the bathroom) while an art student at IUNA. Nine months into hormone therapy, she found herself newly negotiating a world in which not only trans women, but all women, were simultaneously under threat and invisible. Reflecting on the various bases necessary from which one could build an identity as a woman and an artist, Effy inscribes an intentional lineage on her body: her back bears the names of women artists that have transgressed gender through their work. Wearing leather pants (a deliberately androgynous item of clothing), she enters the bathroom, noting it as both a site of routine challenge and discrimination for trans persons, but also equating it as a human need along with pleasure, procreation, belonging, and aesthetics. Her title calls attention to the banality and seeming intractability of deeply gendered linguistic and social structures, while asserting faith in the ability of art to assert paradigm shifts.
Justin Vivian Bond (b. 1963, Hagerstown, Maryland; lives New York)
Mx Justin Vivian Bond is a trans-genre artist living in New York City. As a performer both on and Off-Broadway, Mx Bond has received numerous accolades winning an Obie (2001), a Bessie (2004), a Tony nomination (2007), the Ethyl Eichelberger Award (2007), The Peter Reed Foundaton Grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant for Artists. V authored the Lambda Literary Award winning memoir TANGO: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels (The Feminist Press, 2011).
Films include John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006), Sunset Stories (2012), Imaginary Heroes (2004) and Fanci’s Persuasion (1995). Solo exhibitions of JVB’s watercolors, sculptural installations and live art have been presented by Participant, Inc. (NYC, 2011), Art Market Provincetown (2014), and Vitrine (London, 2015). Albums include Kiki and Herb: Do You Hear What We Hear?, Kiki and Herb Will Die For You at Carnegie Hall, Dendrophile, and Silver Wells.
Pauline Boudry (b. 1972 Lausanne, Switzerland; lives Berlin) / Renate Lorenz (b. 1963 Bonn, Germany; lives Berlin)
Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz have been working together in Berlin since 2007. Their staged films and film installations often start with a song, a picture, a film or a script from the past. They produce performances for the camera, staging the actions of individuals and groups living — indeed thriving — in defiance of normality, law and economics. Their films upset normative historical narratives, as figures across time are staged, projected and layered. Their performers are choreographers, artists and musicians, with whom they are having a long-term conversation about performance, the meaning of visibility since early modernity, the pathologization of bodies, but also about glamour and resistance.Their most recent work, I Want, with performance by Sharon Hayes, premiered in August 2015 at Kunsthalle Zürich and was comissioned by Kunsthalle Zürich and Nottingham Contemporary. In 2014, they produced Opaque, with performances by Werner Hirsch and Ginger Brooks Takahashi, which premiered at the Berlinale (Forum Expanded) in February 2015, and has been shown at Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam and Labf15 in Lyon. To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe, In Recognition of their Desperation (2013) is based on the eponymous 1970 score by avant-garde feminist composer Pauline Oliveros, filmed in Funkhaus Nalepastraße, the former GDR radio studios in Berlin, and featuring performances by the musicians Rachel Aggs, Peaches, Catriona Shaw, Verity Susman, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, and William Wheeler. The work had its premiere exhibition as part of their solo show Patriarchal Poetry at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe in autumn 2013 and was shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in a special event with the artists, Pauline Oliveros and Gregg Bordowitz in May 2014. Previous works include Toxic (2012), with performances by Werner Hirsch and Ginger Brooks Takahashi, commissioned for Intense Proximity, La Triennale, Paris 2012; No Future, No Past, commissioned by Andrea Thal for the Swiss off-site project, Chewing The Scenery, Venice Biennale, 2011; Charming for the Revolution, 2009; N.O.Body, 2008; Normal Work, 2007.
Vaginal Davis (b. 1969, Los Angeles; lives Berlin)
Vaginal Davis is an originator of the homo-core punk movement and a gender-queer art-music icon. Her concept bands — including Pedro Muriel and Esther, Cholita! The Female Menudo, black fag, and the Afro Sisters — have left an indelible mark on the development of underground music. Like Ron Athey, Ms Davis made her name in LA’s club performance scene, and has earned herself a similar notoriety as a cultural antagonist and erotic provocateur. Set apart from gallery-centered art, and Hollywood movies, and from those systems’ necessities of high-polish, low-substance production, Vaginal Davis’s low-budget — often no-budget — performance, experimental film and video practice has critiqued exclusionary conceits from the outside. Davis has been a prolific producer of club performance, video and Xerox-produced Zines, and other forms of antagonistic low-cost, high-impact work. Such as in her drag reconstruction of Vanessa Beecroft’s Navy SEALs performance, Ms Davis derails collector-friendly raciness in spectacles of femininity, queerness and blackness. She critiques both the gallery system and the larger cultural trend that it mirrors, with tongue-in-cheek self-exploitation and rude provocations of racial and gender confusion. Vaginal Davis is the key proponent of the disruptive performance aesthetic known as terrorist drag. Disrupting the cultural assimilation of gay-oriented and corporate-friendly drag, she positions herself at an uncomfortable tangent to the conservative politics of gay culture, mining its contradictory impulses to interrupt the entrenchment of its assimilatory strategies. A self-labeled “sexual repulsive,” Ms Davis consistently refuses to ease conservative tactics within gay and black politics, employing punk music, invented biography, insults, self-mockery, and repeated incitements to group sexual revolt — all to hilarious and devastating effect. Her body a car-crash of excessive significations, Vaginal Davis stages a clash of identifications within and against both heterosexual and queer cultures, and Black and Hispanic identities. From bubblegum songstress Graziela Grejalva to aging deviant John Dean Egg III, Davis’s personas reject the internal counter-cultural mandate to refuse self-criticism, instead problematising the functions and assumptions of normative trends within the margins. By renewing uncertainties within alternative cultures and identities, Vaginal Davis opens up spaces for their continual struggle towards renewed and greater challenges, over and against these practices’ timid appeasement and appropriation by the mainstream.
Zackary Drucker (b. 1983, Syracuse; lives Los Angeles)
Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMA PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated Producer for the docu-series This Is Me, as well as a Producer on Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Transparent. She is a cast member on the E! docu-series I Am Cait.
Chloe Dzubilo (b. 1960, Connecticut; d. 2011, New York)
Artist, performer, and activist, Dzubilo was an icon of downtown nightlife. She wrote plays for and performed with the Blacklips Performance Cult at the Pyramid club, and was the lead singer and songwriter for the punk-rock band the Transisters. Diagnosed with HIV in 1987, she began two and a half decades of critical advocacy work. As part of activist organizations like the Transsexual Menace Chloe directed one of the first federally funded HIV prevention programs for transgender sex workers in 1997: she was appointed to a city government coalition to allocate spending for HIV/AIDS quality of life care, and she organized innovative programs for children with AIDS. Her drawings, a series of autoethnographic meditations and mantras for survival, indicate a powerful punk ethos. In 2011, she curated Transeuphoria at downtown gallery Umbrella Arts with Jeffrey Greene, including the work of Antony Hegarty and Justin Vivian Bond.
Reina Gossett (b. 1984, Massachusetts; lives New York)
Reina Gossett is an activist, writer, and filmmaker. Along with Sasha Wortzel, Reina wrote, directed and produced Happy Birthday, Marsha! a short film about legendary trans activist Marsha P Johnson starring Independent Spirit Award winner Mya Taylor. As the 2014-2016 Activist-In-Residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women (BCRW) Reina produced and directed No One Is Disposable, a series of cross media platform teaching tools used to spotlight the ways oppressed people are fighting back, surviving and building strong communities in the face of enormous violence. She is currently working on the short animated film The Personal Things about iconic black trans activist Miss Major. A long time community organizer, Reina worked as the membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project from 2010 to 2014 to lift the voice and power of trans and gender non conforming people and helped lead the successful campaign to end healthcare discrimination against low income trans and gender non conforming New Yorkers. She also worked at Queers for Economic Justice where she directed the Welfare Organizing Projected and produced A Fabulous Attitude, documenting low-income LGBT New Yorkers surviving inequality and thriving despite enormous obstacles. Prior to her work at Queers for Economic Justice Reina worked with Critical Resistance organizing with low income LGBTGNC New Yorkers in a campaign that successfully stopped NYC’s Department of Corrections from building a $375 million new jail in the Bronx. Reina is a 2007 Soros Justice Fellow, a 2009 Stonewall Community Foundation Honoree, and the recipient of the 2016 Ackerman Institute Community Award. Her work has been supported by the Open Society Foundation, Art Matters Foundation, and the Astraea Foundation’s Global Arts Fund. She was a 2012-2013 fellow of filmmaker Ira Sach’s Queer/Art/Mentorship. Along with Eric Stanley and Johanna Burton, Reina is an editor of the forthcoming New Museum anthology on trans art and cultural production to be published by MIT Press in 2017.
Juliana Huxtable (b. 1987, Bryan-College Station, TX; lives New York)
Juliana Huxtable attended Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where she studied art, gender studies, and human rights. In her work, Huxtable explores the intersections of race, gender, queerness, and identity. She uses a diverse set of means to engage these issues, including self-portraiture, text-based prints, performance, nightlife, music, writing, and social media. Huxtable does not privilege any method over another, and the lines between different forms of her work are often fluid. This destabilization of creative categories is in accordance with her larger project. Whether inserting her own image in landscapes inspired by the African American religious sect Nuwaubian Nation or including the iconic “Protest” section of the jazz album We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (1960) in a DJ set, Huxtable critiques existing social norms and categorical distinctions while indicating alternate, more hopeful possibilities. Huxtable’s work has been featured in group presentations at MoMA PS1, New York (2014); White Columns Annual, White Columns, New York (2014); “Take Ecstasy with Me,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Frieze Projects, London (2014); and 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2015); among other venues. She lives and works in New York.
Greer Lankton (b. 1958 Flint, MI; d. 1996, Chicago, IL)
Known for her radical and lifelike dolls, simultaneously beautiful and grotesque, Greer Lankton was a fixture of the East Village downtown art scene in the 1980s and 1990s, counting Nan Goldin, Candy Darling, and Peter Hujar as friends, collaborators, and sources of inspiration.
Pierre Molinier (b. 1900 Agen, France; d. 1976 Bordeaux, France)
Molinier lived and worked reclusively in Bordeaux, after studying painting in Paris. Contact with Andre Breton eventually led to a solo exhibition of his paintings in 1956; in 1959 he began showing in the International Surrealist exhibitions. Continually searching for ways of radically incorporating his body and desires with the work of art, he began making photographs of himself as a woman, transformed by a “fetish” wardrobe of black stockings, stilettos, mask, and corset. Intimately lit and shot (with the aid of a remote switch), and occasionally incorporating other models, a plaster mannequin, and montage techniques, Molinier created, over decades, a complex erotic persona. Molinier took his own life in 1976, already a developing influence on artists including Genesis P Orridge, Joel-Peter Witkin, and Jürgen Klauke.
Genesis P. Orridge (b. 1950, Manchester, UK; lives New York)
The cultural engineer Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE is an avant-garde anti-hero whose remarkable body of underground work reminds us that when you believe something, artistic integrity demands that you live by it too. In 2007 h/er partner Lady Jaye BREYER dropped h/er body. Since that time Genesis continues to represent the amalgam BREYER P-ORRIDGE in the material “world” and Lady Jaye represents the amalgam BREYER P-ORRIDGE in the immaterial “world” creating an ongoing interdimensional collaboration. Their work documents the physical alterations s/he and the late Lady Jaye, endured within their project Pandrogeny, about re-union and re-solution of male and female to a perfecting hermaphroditic state. Genesis is one of the most rigorous and relentless agents of the postwar Anglo-American vanguard, interrogating the meaning and substance of identity in a peerless half-century program of willful reincarnation and shape-shifting. Embracing the body as not simply the vessel but the site of the avant-garde impulse, BREYER P-ORRIDGE has reinvented and reintroduced h/erself again and again—as Fluxus pioneer, groundbreaking performance artist, inventor of industrial music, “wrecker of civilization,” essayist and theoretician, and, most recently, as pandrogyne.
Flawless Sabrina (b. Philadelphia; lives New York)
Flawless Sabrina was born in the late 1950’s as the alter-ego to south Philly fag, and trained psychologist, Jack Doroshow. Informed by the insights of leading transsexualism expert Harry Benjamin, Sabrina is a tongue in cheek reaction to absurd society. Flawless Sabrina began her career in the 1950’s and 60’s as a radical business woman and renegade, operating a national drag beauty pageant aptly named The Nationals. Her counter-cultural beauty queen enterprise spanned a decade, and ended by the making of an iconic documentary called The Queen that debuted in 1968. Flawless’ career in show business continued in the late 60’s and onto the 70’s when she worked as a consultant on films like Midnight Cowboy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Myra Breckinridge. In Hollywood her assumed expertise of homosexual matters was meant to inform the film industry at a time when queer subject matter was tentatively addressed in cinema. In later years Sabrina became involved in politics, having worked with Hilary Clinton to enable transgender people to alter the (M/F) sex marker on their U.S. passport, and for gay marriage. She is an active member of her community, and a go-to resource for trans in the arts and politics. In late 2013 Sabrina worked closely with luxury department store Barneys on their groundbreaking transgender themed ad campaign shot by Bruce Weber. Flawless Sabrina’s lifetime encouragement of queer community is a subversive reaction to American society. To her countless children, the artists and queers who she admires, Sabrina reiterates the importance of an individual’s empowerment, always encouraging people to follow their heart, sit in the driver’s seat, and allow life’s mysteries to unveil naturally.
Buzz Slutzky (born 1988, Kansas City, KS; lives New York)
Buzz Slutzky is an artist and writer. They work in a range of media, including drawing, sculpture, performance, and video. Their writing has included poetry, creative nonfiction, and art criticism. From 2010-2012, they were Curator of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, which led them to create research-based comedic projects about figures such as George Sand, Anne Frank, and Michel Foucault. Slutzky’s work has been shown at Cooper Union, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), The Leslie Lohman Museum, La Mama, The MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival, and Columbia College. Their projects have been written about by Artforum.com, The Huffington Post, TimeOut NY, NEXT Magazine, and FoucaultNews.com. Buzz’s collaboration with LJ Roberts The Queer Houses of Brooklyn is in the permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They earned their BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010, and their MFA from Parsons the New School for Design in 2015, after which they were a resident at the Vermont Studio Center. They currently teach a course in video production at the College of Staten Island.
Tuesday Smillie is a visual artist, living and working in Brooklyn NY. At the core of her work is a question about the individual and the group: the binary of inclusion and exclusion. This focus undoubtedly stems from Smillie’s experience navigating the world as a transgender woman. Her work has shown throughout the United States. In New York City she has shown at Artist Space, Judson Church, and the A.I.R. Gallery. In 2014 Smillie was inaugurated as the first Resident Artist of the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art. She was also awarded an Art Matters grant that year. Recently her work has been featured on Artnet.com and in VISION, a Chinese culture magazine. In 2016 she was an artist-in-residence at Kala Art Institute.
Chris E. Vargas (b. 1978, Los Angeles; lives Bellingham)
Chris E. Vargas is a video maker & interdisciplinary artist currently based in Bellingham, WA whose work deploys humor and performance in conjunction with mainstream idioms to explore the complex ways that queer and trans people negotiate spaces for themselves within historical & institutional memory and popular culture. He earned his MFA in the department of Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. From 2008-2013, he made, in collaboration with Greg Youmans, the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love…with Chris and Greg. Episodes of the series have screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2015) which have been screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum among other venues. Vargas is also the Executive Director of MOTHA, the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, an arts & hirstory institution highlighting the contributions of trans art to the cultural and political landscape.
Sasha Wortzel (b. New York; lives New York)
Sasha Wortzel is an artist and filmmaker working primarily in time-based media. Her work explores the politics of space in relation to race, gender, and queer desire. Sasha has recently presented work at the Berlin International Film Festival, DOC NYC, Outfest LA, Newfest, BFI Flare, Tribeca Interactive, Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, A.I.R. Gallery, Cooper Gallery, the Guggenheim Lab, and New Museum. Her work has been supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Art Matters Foundation, the Astraea Foundation’s Global Arts Fund and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). She is a 2012-2013 fellow of filmmaker Ira Sach’s Queer/Art/Mentorship. Sasha is a participant in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace program. Sasha received her MFA from Hunter College. Sasha is also the Director of Access and Community Programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her current project with artist collaborator, Reina Gossett, Happy Birthday, Marsha!, follows iconic transgender rights activist and artist, Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson in the hours before she initiated the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. The film will premiere in 2017. Gossett and Wortzel are also in development on a feature about Johnson’s life post-stonewall.