Sunday 15 December 2019

Transgender culture takes centre stage

Lisa Byrne, artists Seven Victor and Nadia Corridan and TD James Browne
Lisa Byrne, artists Seven Victor and Nadia Corridan and TD James Browne
Caroline Ross and Philamena O’Hanlon

Maria Pepper

The Presentation Centre in Enniscorthy is proud to present a joint exhibition by artists Seven Victor and Nadia Corridan which explores the subject of identity difference with a focus on the queer and transgender culture.

Irreverent Reverence comprises sculptural installations, stitch work, paintings and drawings and will continue at the centre until July 20.

Seven, from San Francisco, and Nadia, from Kerry, have been living and working in the Enniscorthy area for some time. Nadia has a BA in Fine Art from Limerick School of Art and Design while Seven studied Anthropology at the University of South Florida.

Seven is a multi-media artist whose work is inspired by queer and transgender culture. In the words of Visual Arts Manager Lisa Byrne, her current work focuses on the juxtaposition of queer icons and imagery with Judeo-Christian iconography, elevating forgotten heroes to the status of saints and representing the queer body as divine.

'Touching on the themes of gender roles, historical injustices and the notion of idolisation alongside themes of irreverence towards the human form, Irreverent Reverence showcases the work of two artists coming together to inform, create and to encourage viewers to consider cultures as equal', said Lisa.

In a speech at the official opening, Seven thanked people for their support, including her 'amazing, supportive husband' as well as Lisa and her crew at the Presentation Centre and her fellow artist Nadia.

'My original pitch for this show was a very different beast than it has wound up being but Lisa showed nothing but support every step of the way'.

'I want to thank you all for making the effort to be here tonight. In many ways, this feels like my true arrival, both in Ireland and in my true self and it warms my heart to see your here', she said.

In thanking Nadia, she credited her with being truly responsible for the show taking place. 'When Nadia heard that I am an artist she immediately put me onto this place and encouraged me to get involved.'

'This work is deeply personal', said Seven. 'You could say it's been a lifetime in the making. It took me 37 years to accept that I am transgender and that is not due to a lack of exposure to the topic. It is due to internalised transphobia, fear and confusion'.

'Unmanaged depression through most of my early adult life kept me distracted and anxious and the gay/queer community allowed me to hide as a flamboyant gay man for many, many years. When I would feel threatened or unsafe, I would retreat from my comfortable feminine gender expression to a more masculine presentation in the hope of either staying safe or making myself more appealing to others.'

'The closest I ever came to transitioning was when I changed my name to Seven around 2008. At the time, I was wearing make-up and feminine clothes and even knee-high stilettos to my graduate classes. I rarely had to go outside of the Social Science building and it was full of friends and supporters. But then reality set in. How would I find a job. How would anyone ever find me attractive.'.

'I didn't think I deserved happiness unless I towed the gender line. Shocking to realise I thought that way, despite everything about my life at that time being trans* inclusive and extremely liberal. What is even more shocking is that it is still there.'

'This work tries to imagine a different kind of world, a different kind of religion. Inspired by the history of this venue, I wanted to challenge the things that have always kept me from connecting with religion - the lack of queerness and otherness, and the awful past. Here we have a new model, a new way to look at the things we find familiar and a new way to discover those we don't', she said..

'The four patron saints you see are but the tip of a massive underground glacier, a world rich with talent and art motivated not by greed but survival and originality.'.'For those who may doubt that trans* and queer people deserve to be saints, the next time you read the news keep an eye out for a story where a trans* or queer person enacts violence on someone they don't know on the street, or kills them. It doesn't happen. And yet, we get killed and harassed by strangers everyday. Every day we are forced to swallow our tears and our anger and walk away from abuse without retaliation. If that's not sainthood, I don't know what is'. Victor's full speech is on the Presentation Facebook page.

Wexford People

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