Monsters are powerful symbols of transformative agency, heavily ingrained in Western culture. With transmutating creatures living rent-free in our collective imagination, I have to wonder: why is it taboo for queer people to transform? Just as LGBTQ+ activists reclaimed ‘queer’ as a radical identifier, I reclaim ‘monster’ as an uncompromising symbol of bodily agency.
A science experiment in my own right, my beasties mimic the conditions of my transition, from ‘coming out’ to gender confirmation surgery. Sutures become ladder stitches, tattoo’d decoration blooms as embroidery. From the sagging, pustulating breast to the uplifting Seraph above, the spectrum of dysphoria to euphoria broadens as you enter my monster mash.
Birthing my brood is understanding my body. Sculpting my form is self-love.
My canvas- IT’S ALIVE! A mad science lab, a temple to the transformed, a space where anatomy has no limits. Mold flesh to the most unruly desire; relishing every cut, stitch, prick, and dye. Let us marvel at metamorphosis and wreak havoc on normalcy!
If this sounds like a B-Rate horror movie, good.
Mitch Vicieux utilizes horror movie tactics in their work, incorporating monumental scale and interstitiality in their plush creations to reimagine the possibility for a body, and specifically a trans body, without limitations. Through subtle references to a wide array of pop cultural sources, which range from comic arts and horror flicks to classical mythology and early Christendom, Vicieux creates Frankensteinian forms that play with the malleability of cartoon characters and the abjection of monsters, both of whom defy categorical bounds that are placed upon the body. Looking to the figure of the monster, queer theorist Jack Halberstam writes, “Monsters have to be everything the human is not and, in producing the negative of human, [monsters] make way for the invention of human as white, male, middle class, and heterosexual.” In their sculptural works, Vicieux aims to disrupt these standards of normativity that maintain the human-monster binary, and instead, finds new potential for unregulated, modified bodies.
Throughout their practice, Vicieux relates these ideas to their own bodily experiences of transition and gender confirmation. Within the installation, body parts become fragmented, as a pustulating, amorphous breast is shown alongside a single bulbous eyeball that is suspended high in the air. Each of these individual pieces, which becomes objectified in its segmentation from the body, is sutured and stitched together in a process of transformative healing. These monstrous plush forms, which straddle a line between the seductive and the repulsive, are representations for the skin, organs, and appendages that make up the artist’s body. By commingling pop cultural sources with their own personal history, Mitch Vicieux defies social taboos and conventions to reclaim the monster as a symbol of trans power, acceptance, and limitlessness.