B.G.-Osborne | A Thousand Cuts
September 26 - 29, 2018
Opening reception for members and guests: Saturday, September 29
A Thousand Cuts is an in-progress found-footage video compilation of cisgender actors playing transgender roles in film and television. The work confronts transgender cinematic tropes and the erasure of transgender people in mainstream media. The clips that are selected for the compilation are, more often than not, from films and television series produced for cisgender audiences. By editing, arranging, and locating visual and thematic similarities between certain clips and dialogue, A Thousand Cuts creates new meaning through a crescendolike composition ranging from humorous to violent- but always inauthentic- representations of trans individuals. The large poster included in the exhibition lists the names of all documented murdered transgender people in the past two years. Last year alone, there were over three hundred documented murders of transgender people world-wide. The poster serves as a reminder to the viewership of the common consequence of transgender expression, especially for trans women of colour.
B.G-Osborne is a Transmedia artist from rural Ontario, currently working in Montreal. Their work focuses on exploring and interrogating the potential of gender-variant embodiment to serve as both a tool for gender deconstruction and revision. They graduated as valedictorian from NSCAD University in 2014 with a BFA in Intermedia. Osborne’s ongoing projects seek to address the complexities of trans representation and violence, mental illness, and family secrets/stories. They place great importance in showcasing their work in artist run centres and non-commercial galleries throughout Canada.
*Text courtesy of The New Gallery
In solidarity with the artist B.G-Osborne and The New Gallery, Latitude 53 is honoured to welcome A Thousand Cuts to the gallery. This follows Calgary's Arts Commons turning off the 3-channel video work being exhibited in The New Gallery's +15 Window. The reasons cited being that the work contained “a lot of swearing and nudity” that had garnered “a lot of complaints from concerned patrons.” Arts Commons asked for the artist to edit out these parts of the work, and if not, the work would need to be turned off.
B.G-Osborne has also written an open letter in response to this censorship:
It has been brought to my attention that there have been several complaints against my video work due to “cursing and nudity”. Rather than re-edit and censor my work to comfort certain viewers who are offended by the very banal acts of swearing and non-sexual nudity, I have decided to remove the piece from the space entirely. It is ironic that a video compilation that highlights the far-too-common act of cisgender actors being permitted and feeling entitled to play trans characters in film and television, is too offensive when looked at through a critical/ trans-lens. The entire work is meant to be offensive, but several individuals have chosen to fixate on cursing and one brief scene of nudity. If you are cisgender and you were offended by this work: think about why you were offended. Are you trying to protect your children from what you perceive to be vulgar representations of bodies? Are you comfortable with the violence that is perpetuated against trans people, but offended by five or six swear words (that your children have already heard) and a flaccid penis? If you cannot accept seeing a penis on a woman in a movie (even though the actor is a cisgender woman with a prosthetic)- think about the other types of transphobia you might perpetuate in your daily routines. To me, it seems you are afraid of the questions this video will raise in the minds of your children, or in yourself.
To Arts Commons: I implore you to deal with complaints against challenging art work (especially when the content deals with marginalized communities and bodies) in a more constructive way, rather than shutting down a conversation before it can begin. Trans people are still being murdered at a seriously alarming rate, misrepresentation will continue to happen in mainstream media, we will try to take back our image and tell our own stories, cisgender people will keep being offended, and we will keep fighting.
Deeply disappointed, but not surprised,