“False Dichotomies (I Don’t Fit In Your Box)”
by Audrey Hyvonen
This is one in a series of posts featuring an artist whose work is included in the Threads of Resistance exhibition.
“False Dichotomies (I Don’t Fit in Your Box)” explores the pervasive black and white thinking of our largely gendered society and insists on thoughtful reflection to deepen or widen that thinking. Drawing from the traditional Victorian era, black and white hexagonal tiles resonate specifically with current bathroom access battles in this life-size work presenting a blended human figure composed of split iconic gendered bathroom signs.
The standard binary of female/male is challenged as a false dichotomy, marked in this piece by the “W” and “M” chest emblems altered into a zig-zag superhero shield; the “skirt” of the left-sided figure being referenced as a ghost cape on the right; and finally, the neutral genital flower, indicating a root that is gender free.
The angled placement of the figure on the background is both intentional and reactionary. Gender fluidity does not fit in the narrowly defined standard binary “boxes” created by society, and neither does this hexagonal human (h=68") fit into the show dimension restrictions (h=60"). Prioritizing the full figure meant a sideways mount at an awkward angle, paralleling the oft-challenging expression of an authentic self as faced by many nonconforming or transgender people in our culture.
How does looking at the figure affect you as part of society? When noticing the grotesque exaggeration of an archetypal male shoulder do you assume features of strength and protection? When seeing a triangle shape extending from the side of a leg, do you assume the predictable skirted garb of a girl with associated vulnerability and shame-filled rape culture, or do you seek and find a superhero cape – symbolic of hidden talents and magical powers? Is there a peepshow/sideshow aspect of the viewer as voyeur made safer/more acceptable by the cover of the fabric medium and does this also serve to make the unspeakable into something we can begin to discuss?
Hear a message from Audrey about her piece below: