Exhibitions | Machihembrao | 2003
"Machihembrao", 2003
Opening and Closing: Friday, 25 April 2003 - 7:30pm to Saturday, 24 May 2003 - 6:00pm

Machihembrao (slang term composed of "machi"/man, and " Hembrao"/ woman | 2003


“When I bat my lashes, it’s a political event.” Ru Paul

“ I pretend? What? Who? My mother, a woman, my father’s wife, the woman? Or rather, the ideal woman, the essence…For anything to have meaning I have to accept that I am inhabited not by a duality but rather by an intense simulation that constitutes an end in and of itself, beyond what I might imitate: what is simulated? Simulation.” Severo Sarduy

El  selxo  es  elxelso.

Certain ancient Hebrew myths believed that Adam was originally a hermaphrodite, created from masculine and feminine bodies, connected together at the back. As this posture made movements difficult and conversation awkward, God divided the androgyne, giving each half a backside. He placed these separate beings in Eden, prohibiting that they unite.

Hermaphrodite is the son of Aphrodite and Hermes. Writing about the androgyne in The Banquet, Plato claimed that, “In effect the androgyne, in form and name, was one individual being—it shared both sexes, masculine and feminine, thereafter becoming nothing more than a  man fallen from grace(…) There were necessarily three genders given that man originally descended from the sun; woman from the earth, and that being which claimed both sexes, from the moon, for  the moon belongs to both heavenly bodies.

In Western alchemist theories, there are concrete correspondences between the visible and the invisible, superior and inferior, matter and spirit, planets and metals, masculine and feminine. The masculine-feminine duality was represented in the figure of Hermaphrodite or Rebis. Carl Jung draws upon such principles arguing that every female bears the masculine principle of “ánimus” and every male the feminine principle of “ánima.” These principles determine certain archetypal traits such as intuition, the grasping of the irrational, the capacity to love, sensitivity (“ánima”), activity, rational thought, competence, aggressiveness (“ánimus”).

The coexistence of the two genders can be clearly observed in the physical development of the embryo. Up until the third month, both sexes remain in a state of ambiguity as both the internal and external appearances of the genitals are identical. Ancient anatomists held the theory of unisexuality in which woman was considered to be an inverted male (the vagina being the equivalent of an inverted penis). One 10th century Arab author has pointed out that the vaginal lips are analogous to the male foreskin, its function being to protect the vagina from cold air.

During the embryonic stage, the primary cellular differentiations are separated into three groups: the endoderm, from which the intestines and glands like the thyroid, liver and pancreas, derive; the mesoderm out of which the heart, muscles, bones, cartilage and vessels develop; and the ectoderm which produces all the different nervous cells, fibers and ganglions, the epithelial cells of the eyes, ears, and nose, the epithelium of the skin… Might it be for this reason that Valery described the skin as that which is most profound, while Nietzsche spoke of consciousness as surface? The biological origin and development of the human being situates the individual’s essential nature in the cellular membrane: it is here that all electro-chemical activity occurs. Biology demonstrates the transcendence of the “surface” and shows how the content of interior space is in topological contact with the content of exterior space; everything  in the interior is actively present in the exterior world on the border of existence. Surface with and as the limit between two spaces. Thus the incomprehensibility of the historic-philosophic privileging of all that is profound (and poor by extension) to the detriment of the surface which is considered banal, rather than a vast, open, extension.

For transvestites, the rule of the game is to plant doubt (at times panic in the face of fearful insecurities): is it a man or might it be a woman? In reality what is significant is the indistinction, indifferentiation, and confusion of codes. To Baudrillard (Seduction), the masculine has never, in reality, been the most powerful principle. On the contrary, it has required all kinds of devices and institutions to maintain its “supremacy” while the feminine has covertly exercised an oblique form of power. Seduction always conquers production (unbeknownst to the latter).

“Pleasure and Pain are represented as twins. One, a beautiful, elegant young man whose blond curls fall in ringlets, the other a sad, somber old man. They are depicted together for there is never the one without the other and with their backs turned to each other because they are contrary the one to the other. They are made growing out of the same trunk because they have one and the same foundation, for the foundation of pleasure is labor with pain, and the foundations of pain are vain and lascivious pleasures"

(Leonardo Da Vinci, on his drawing Allegory of  pleasure and pain.)

Selected works
"Machihembrao" | 2003 | (66) Amazonic stems Capinuri | variable measurements
"Machihembrao" | 2003 | (video in the background is: "Its the Same")
"Machihembrao" (detail) | 2003 | (video in the background is: "Its the Same")
Interior Jardin | 2003 | Vídeo-installatin | 120 mins. | view 1
Interior Jardin | 2003 | Vídeo-installatin | 120 mins. | view 3
Interior Jardin | 2003 | Vídeo-installatin | 120 mins. | view 4
"Squaring the Circle" | 1983 | mono channel video | 30 secs.
"Squaring the Circle" (detail) | 1983 | mono channel video | 30 secs.
"Theme and Variations" | 1983 | ( 28 ) Photo stills of disappeared video | 9 x12 cm. c/u.
"Theme and Variations" | (detail) 1983 | ( 28 ) Photo stills of disappeared video | 9 x12 cm. c/u.
"Theme and Variations" | (detail) 1983 | ( 3 ) Photo stills of disappeared video | 10.5 x 15 cms cm. c/u.
"Theme and Variations" | (detail) 1983 | ( 3 ) Photo stills of disappeared video | 10.5 x 15 cm. cm. c/u. | view 2
"Machihembrao" | 1998 | mono channel video | 6 mins.
"Vals" | 2003 | Vídeo-monocanal | 20 mins.
"Vals" | 2003 | Vídeo-monocanal | 20 mins. | view 2