Curated by Bren O’Callaghan for HOME, Human Measure is the first UK solo exhibition by the internationally renowned transgender visual artist Cassils. Making their own body the canvas and protagonist of their art, Cassils works across the mediums of sculpture, photography, live performance, sound design and film. The exhibition, which is accompanied by a world premiere contemporary dance piece (ticketed separately), is a ten-year survey of Cassils’ work.
Drawing on the notion that our perceptions of the body are shaped by power and social narratives, Cassils’ work considers the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence and representation. In Cassils’ work the body becomes the vital and primary site of artistic inquiry and as such, becomes central in expressing themes of struggle and survival.
Working within conceptualism, feminism and body arts, Cassils’ performative work involves training, sculpting and transforming their body as a means of expressing identity and self. By pushing themselves to the extremes of physical experience, and recording or presenting the process and/or output as a performance, Cassils’ aims to disrupt established ideas around gender and sexuality.
The exhibition is accompanied by Cassils’ first piece of contemporary dance. A new commission for HOME’s Theatre 1, the work is set to the backdrop of the government’s recent shortfallings in reviewing the UK Gender Recognition Act; the toxic online abuse propagated by those purporting to champion women’s rights and the rise of far-right forums. With a surge in reports of anti-trans hate crimes since 2014, the performance examines personal safety, visibility and vulnerability during a time of heightened violence against the Gender-Nonconforming/ Trans community.
Collaborating with renowned dance choreographer Jasmine Albuquerque, Human Measure (2021) will utilise Cassils’ research into kinesiology, martial arts and sports science to reexamine Yves Kline’s Anthropometries paintings, which were elaborately produced using naked bodies as paintbrushes in front of an audience.
In addition to Cassils’ exhibition and dance commission, there will be a number of ticketed events and screenings happening too. Artist Chester Tenneson and curator Zorian Clayton will present a series of critical and creative essays, including work from Professor Dominic Johnson of Queen Mary University, London and Libro levi Bridgeman of Hotpencil Press.
There will also be a special film series, presented by writer/ director Campbell X, celebrating trans/non-binary joy and desire. Additionally, Kate O’Donnell, founder of Manchester-based Trans Creative art organisation will host a conversation with Cassils and curator Bren O’Callaghan. Meanwhile, you can join UK-based Zimbabwean writer/ performer mandla rae for a performative assembly exploring ritual and remembrance.