In one week, I’ll be part of a show at Site Gallery in Sheffield with other artists on the Freelands programme. The show will run until the end of the month, and while I’m there, I hope to carry out interviews with local transgender people, for a forthcoming project with a working title of “Cis Penance”. I’m very keen to hear from anyone who might be interested in being interviewed – please check out the details below!
“Cis Penance” aims to use videogame-like installations to draw attention to issues affecting transgender people in the UK, with a particular focus on how institutional and social structures alter our relationship to time and our life paths, through lengthy waiting processes. Interviews with 60 transgender people from around the UK will be represented as interactive text, projected onto a long, embroidered e-textile portraying people waiting in a queue. Kind of a queer cybertwee Bayeux tapestry. Anyone interested in being interviewed is welcome to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
This project builds on my previous work, “Interactive portraits: trans people in Japan 2018“, which has toured exhibitions and festivals, including Docfest, Now Play This, and the Rainbow Arcade exhibition at the Schwules Museum in Berlin. Whereas that project featured 12 interviews carried out in Japan, this new project aims to incorporate 60 interviews carried out in different locations in the UK.
The format I use makes anonymity very easy to achieve, as I do not use interview audio in the final piece and I do not record video footage. Interviewees’ physical appearances will not be portrayed in the installation piece, instead represented by one of 60 abstract embroidered figures. Interviewees can choose to use their real name, an existing pseudonym that they might use online, or a randomly-assigned pseudonym. My interview method focuses on allowing participants to set the agenda, to reflect the kinds of topics that actually come out in conversations between trans people, rather than directing the conversation to serve cisgender curiosity.
Interviews will last about 45 minutes. The Sheffield interviews will be carried out in a comfy part of the Site Gallery show, which will be made a bit secluded using some curtains. They will be recorded as audio only, and transcribed into text extracts for the interactive work. Audio recordings will not be used in the final installation piece, but interviewees can opt in to allowing the audio to be used in accompanying multimedia materials. The recordings might be archived in a museum or library collection at some point, to preserve them for the historical record.
Interviewees are welcome to participate without talking about their transition. I use an open-ended format that gives the interviewee autonomy over the topics of discussion, but questions I might ask to help things along could include:
- How do you see yourself?
- What brings you satisfaction in life?
- What aspects of your life would you like to be different?
- What challenges do you face in making this happen?
- How have things changed for you in the past few years?
Dates and contact
I hope to interview around 15 transgender people in Sheffield, ideally before August 25th. There is also time available after October 28th until the end of the year. Anyone interested in being interviewed can contact me using email@example.com.