Cassils Recalibrating Sense: Cassils at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts

BOMB Magazine Oct 23, 2017

Art historian David Getsy writes extensively about the ways in which abstract forms have been utilized by queer and trans artists to express a queer “stance,” i.e., a way of being in the world and being in relation to others “without recourse to the representation of bodies,” as he phrases it in “Appearing Differently: Abstraction’s Transgender and Queer Capacities,” a conversation between him and William J. Simmons. “Recourse to representation” references the demands made of trans people in their art, walking down the street, and in a courtroom: demands for legible bodily representation, for surveilling eyes to know their “biological” bodies, essences, or truths—whatever the hell that means. Straight-up representation of the body is not the only expressive tactic and often not the best one; maybe manifestations of “stance” can do more. Artist and performer Cassils formally builds their “stance” out of glass, bronze, clay, gold paint, and fire. But a refusal of an easily legible body representation does not mean these works are not infused and saturated with the bodily: the glass orbs hung from the ceiling of Cassil’s current exhibition, MONUMENTAL, at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts are filled with their actual breaths; a large glass cube at the center of the exhibition holds their yellow-orange urine; and a bronzed clay tower registers the marks of their fingers and toes. Photo and video documentation of the body-based making of these abstracted forms hangs on the surrounding walls. What is and isn’t “bodily” here is not so clear. What makes a “queer form” is not so clear.

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