Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Zackary Drucker, One Fist, 2010

     Born a male in 1983 in New York, Zackary Drucker is now an emerging Los Angeles-based transgender performance and video artist whose work deals mainly with gender and sexuality issues. As a cis-male (born male), transgender woman (identifies as a female), Drucker leads the pack and tackles issues facing the transgender community head on. With overtly sexual images, text and themes, the viewer cannot escape the pertinent issues at hand. Drucker has only been working since 2006 and has already given the art world a hefty oeuvre to study and track transgender art in the contemporary scene.
Drucker began her studies at the Media School of Visual Arts in New York, NY where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography. She completed her studies at the California Institute of the Art in Valencia, CA where she obtained a Master of Fine Art Degree in Photography. Before she devoted herself to the world of fine art, Drucker starred in reality television and typecast herself as the typical transgender: “that token queer—self-important, edgy, and hip, challenging the other cast members with a sharp tongue and a fierce fashion sense to boot.” As she matured, so did her art. Now the art world is faced with a “direct, unapologetic confrontation between the audience and her body, gender, and voice,” instead of a stereotypical “tranny”.

     In an interview with Christopher Bolen , Drucker said, “I’ve always been interested in mixing signals…I don’t think any of us are easily defined. Trans people have a tendency to adhere to normative culture, but I think all the rules and truths are being redefined.” In her works, Drucker will often comply with the stereotypes of the transgender culture, yet in the commentary and message that the entire work suggests, she simultaneously undermines those very stereotypes and often does so with biting implications.
     In Drucker’s avant-garde performance, You have one fist in my mouth, and one fist up my ass; your arms are trapped inside me like a Chinese finger trap, which showed at Jerome Zodo Contemporary (Milan) on January 21, 2010, two voices come in and out of clarity while a gold painted body wrapped in bandages slowly rotates 360 degrees on a pedestal. An assistant holds the end of the bandages and unravels the tightly bound Drucker at the same rate as the pedestal rotates. The voices speak about transgender misconceptions and appear to be spoken by Drucker. The voices are both female and male, warped by an editing machine to lower and heighten the pitch, calling to mind both a male and female voice. Sometimes the voices overlap and the distinction between the two is blurred. At other points the voices are distinct, separate.
     In the performance, the recording says, “This is a culture polarized by fucking. I am an archetype; a survivor; a living history; a dying history. Who does that bitch think she is? They say she is too low for the dogs to bite; she should find a sewer and jump in…it is part of our peculiar society that difference must be stamped out and ignored. Made to fit the model…this is the truth that resonate with ourselves…Transcend and transgress the kinds of knowledge out there…The debate of binary sex is circular…There are only two sexes to be…It will be my body and my gender on the firing line, I will be forced to defend and make art about over and over again.”
     When asked by Performance Art World how important her body is to her work, Drucker noted, “My body is my work. I’d like viewers to feel desire, repulsion, identification, judgement, confusion, guilt; and then I want to make them laugh and feel like they are in on the joke.”
Drucker continues to play with transgender themes as she comes into her own. She asks the hard questions, makes herself uncomfortable, and attempts to bring the viewer into the conversation about gender, sexuality and confused norms. Drucker is the trailblazer for many artists who are using performance pieces to comment on society in a non-violent manner. Be on the look out for more from Drucker and her collaborators in the near future.

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