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4.12.2010

Hermaphroditism and transsexualism

Good afternoon contemporary art lovers!
Hermaphroditism and transsexualism in the arts; what interesting subjects... There are two different types of hermaphroditism: physical and psychic. Extremely rare in humans, a simultaneous hermaphrodite is an adult organism that has both male and female sexual organs. Incompatible with the biological gender binary, he/she usually can later change into the alternate sex. "Hermaphroditic" has been replaced by "Intersexual" in medicine. A psychic hermaphrodite is someone who feels both male and female but who only has the genitals of one sex. Most often a psychic hermaphrodite goes to the surgery...

Regarding the origins of the greek myth, Hermaphroditus, a remarkably handsome boy, was the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. The Naiad Salmacis fell in love with him and tried to seduce him but she was rejected. She surprised him when he thought she was gone, kissed him, held him in her arms and asked the gods never separate them. Her wish had been granted and he had been transformed into an androgynous deity by union with her. The most famous example of "its" representation has been made in marble by Borghese and is shown at the Louvre in Paris.

If there is an artist that we could be describe as a psychic hermaphrodite, this is Pierre Molinier, a French artist who lived in the first part of the 20th century. Andre Breton and the Surrealists were interested by all of his paintings which were very sensual, erotic and matched with their idea of a "convulsive beauty". But when Molinier has started creating his own photomontages, much more erotic and esoteric, the Surrealists didn't followed him anymore. When he imagined himself as a hermaphroditic shaman he animated groups of young androgynous people. Most often his photographs were self-portraits of himself as a woman. On this picture, he represented himself as "the" shaman with fake boobs, high heels, mask and his erect penis. Focusing on using his body as a model, we can say that he is a precursor of body art and has probably inspired many artists such as Cindy Sherman.

As for those who have been operated on, they are magnificently represented by the photographs made by Nan Goldin, an American artist. She started her first solo show by showing her photographic journeys among the city's gay and transsexual communities. Through her pictures, she shows us another side of the transsexual communities. Most of the time, they are photographed in their own place, in intimate situations. Most often presented in the form a slide show, her pictures are a kind of personal diary which would be public. But the icon of transsexuals is still Amanda Lepore whom real name is Armand and who was diagnosed as transgender. She is an amazing model, fashion icon, performer and one of David Lachapelle's muses...

Love, sexuality, eroticism, mixture of genders...will always be a source of inspiration for artists.
Especially with the video and the digital photograph since they can give free rein to their imagination...
Even if sometimes we just don't get it!!

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