The Curatorial Incubator, v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven: Program #1


ALLO PERFORMANCE! Mirha-Soleil Ross and Mark Karbusicky, 2002


The Curatorial Incubator, v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven

Program #1 – gendertrash from hell: to heaven
A mini-retrospective of the work of Mirha-Soleil Ross

Curated by Crocus Collective (Dallas Fellini and Karina Iskandarsjah)

This fall, Vtape will present four programs developed by the 2021 Curatorial Incubator Incubatees after an extensive research phase where each of them viewed scores of potential titles to exhibit within their curatorial premise. Each program begins with a live introduction by the emerging curator or collective, followed by all the titles in their program, and ending with a live conversation between the emerging curator/collective and the artists in their program.

Please join us for these dynamic LIVE ON-LINE events. Each program is presented on a Thursday at 7PM ET and will continue to be available on the vtape website for the following three weeks until the next program rolls out.

On Thursday September 9, 2021, @7pm ET, Crocus Collective (Dallas Fellini and Karina Iskandarsjah) will do a short introduction, followed by all 3 titles in their program, ending in a pre-recorded conversation with scholar and sex work activist Viviane Namaste, author of Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism (2005) which provides an authoritative introduction to contemporary transsexual politics in Canadian and Québécois contexts.

The Crocus Collective write about their program: “gendertrash from hell was a zine created and distributed by Mirha-Soleil Ross and her partner Xanthra Phillippa MacKay from 1993 to 1995. Devoted to giving “a voice to gender queers, who’ve been discouraged from speaking out & communicating with each other” (gendertrash 2), gendertrash featured poetry, artwork, and short stories alongside practical resources, calls to action, and articles about trans activism, sex work decriminalization, trans health advocacy, racism, and transphobia. The title of this program is a direct reference to this zine, which symbolizes Ross’s legacy as an activist who was instrumental in reframing and instigating the contemporary realities and culture of transsexual and transgender people in Canada.

“Ross’s legacy is manifold, having founded initiatives like the 519 Community Centre’s Meal Trans program, which continues to provide weekly drop-in meals and legal support to trans people, and Counting Past 2 (CP2), a transsexual and transgender film and art festival, which ran from 1997 to 2002. As a Métis, transsexual woman “with a history of prostitution” (Forrester et al. 103), who grew up in a French-Canadian, working-class family, Mirha-Soleil Ross has always fiercely advocated for the most marginalized within her communities—notably for the rights of sex workers and transsexuals.

“The videos in this screening characterize three distinct artistic strategies invested in a safer and more inclusive future: self-representation, community-building, and transcendent depictions of desire, which, together, project fragments of a potential utopia into our contemporary lives. In their zine gendertrash from hell, Ross and MacKay appropriate and taunt conceptions of trans people as deviant, damned, and threatening to (or rejected by) society to playfully insinuate a welcoming idea of hell. This conception of hell paradoxically resonates with Ross’s actualization of a potential heaven for trans people and sex workers through her videos, performance art, and activism in the 1990s and 2000s.” Crocus Collective (Toronto) 2021.

gendertrash from hell: to heaven
Curated by Crocus Collective (Dallas Fellini and Karina Iskandarsjah)

1. Mirha-Soleil Ross and Mark Karbusicky
Tremblement de Chair, 2001, 3:47
In Tremblement de Chair, the camera follows a hand as it traces across Ross’s body, superimposed by footage of the natural world which allows for autonomous self-censorship and prompts questions about how trans bodies are represented. In this inwardly-focused work, Ross mediates on her own representation, situating sexuality and beauty within her experience as a transsexual woman.

2. Mirha-Soleil Ross, Viviane Namaste, and Monica Forrester
Madame Lauraine’s Transsexual Touch, 2001, 33:50
Madame Lauraine, a flamboyant brothel madam and entrepreneur, introduces us to some of her staff: four transsexual sex workers who find fulfillment in both their professional and personal lives. Steamy sex scenes are interspersed with witty remarks that weave pedagogy and activism into this work, actively educating on safer-sex practices and respectful etiquette for patrons of sex workers.

3. Mirha-Soleil Ross and Mark Karbusicky
ALLO PERFORMANCE!, 2002, 13:16
In this video Ross flaunts a prosthetic pregnant belly as she strolls along the shoreline by the Golden Gate Bridge. The black and white footage is in slow motion and superimposed with images of moving water. Throughout, an audio recording plays of the artist’s mother recounting her experiences of having a baby and raising a child.


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