Watch: Transactivations, Two Remarkable Individuals Making Art

By: Christopher Donaldson

Although you might not know her name, you certainly have seen her gender-bending swagger.

In 2010, Los Angeles based artist Heather Cassils played Lady Gaga’s incarcerated lover for the music video Telephone, one of the most-watched online clips in YouTube history.

Now, you can watch Cassils inhabit a world usually reserved for male body-builders. And that world comes to us with questions already assembled from her critically acclaimed performance in Transactivations, which premiered last Thursday at gallery ONE, the University of Southern California’s national gay and lesbian archive: “How can we think of gender as a sculptural mass?” asks Cassils, as reported by local radio station KPCC. “And how can we manipulate the body through diet and exercise to expand it?”

Transactivations also features transgendered performance artist Zackary Drucker, who would very much like to compel our attention to how male and female identity operate while under the crushing weight of narrow cultural and gender norms. As you can see in the video below, audience members used tweezers to pluck individual hairs from her body. And it's a ritual that feels both strange and familiar simultaneously.

“Transgendered artists are sort of underrepresented in our history, and there are only a handful I can think of,” says Drucker. “If there is no precedent, if there are no representations, then you have to start somewhere.”

Video below (via KPCC). Read more on Trans artists perform as part of Getty's Pacific Standard Time here.

Transactivations from KPCC on Vimeo.