Art and History of Transforming

Clovis Maillet

–––– This seminar is taught in English.

"For millennia, the patriarchy has had history; for a few years, in the1970's, some white feminists had herstory; but now, transgender people finally have a gender neutral history all their own" (Chris E. Vargas, Museum Of Trans History and Art, 2017)

This seminar aims to think from the trans perspective and the transgender gaze (Halberstam), a history of artistic transformations over the long term, from the premodern world to the most recent mutations. Going back to pre-modernity allows us to move away from the nature/culture dichotomy that determines sex/gender issues. The entry of trans studies into the history of art is the legacy of decades of activism initially focused on the forensic field. Some of its methodologies are common to feminist and postcolonial theory, but some of the studies have been opposed to certain currents of radical and differentialist feminism. The relationship of trans studies to queer theory is also complex and sometimes divergent depending on historical contexts.

The seminar will focus on the study of early works from antiquity and the Middle Ages to the work of current artists such as Chris E. Vargas, Nicki Green and Yuki Kihara.

It will be stimulating personal and collective research and welcome personal propositions for the preparation of an exhibition and a catalogue.

Programme :

  1. Introduction
  2. Emperor and trans: in search of Heliogabalus
  3. Between genres and arts with Eugen·i·e of Rome
  4. At war with Joan of Arc
  5. Fencing lessons with the Chevalière d'Eon
  6. Modernity and gender fluidity with Anton Prinner
  7. Trans artists in the 1950 with Michel Marie Poulain
  8. Ceramics and Politics with Nicki Green
  9. Looking at Polynesia with Yuki Kihara

Suggested bibliography:
Gosset Reina, Stanley Eric, Burton Johanna, Trap Door, Trans cultural Production and the politics of visibility, MIT Press, 2017
Halberstam Jack, In a queer time and space, Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives, New York, 2005
Kiss my genders, exhibition catalogue, Hayward Gallery, London, 2019 (with Jack Halberstam and Susan Stryker)
Maillet Clovis, Les genres fluides, de Jeanne d’arc aux saintes trans, Paris, 2020
Riley Snorton, C. Black on Both Sides, A Racial History of Trans Identities, Minneapolis, 2017