Frames within frames. A bed and an orange professorship. The black-dressed number kneels against the layer. Her clothes capture light in folds. Her terribly pink face is faceless—a bland surface missing its features. Her hands are fingerless. She is plains of rouge, just as she is flattened by kneeling. Grief, pain, or enjoyable submission, her facelessness refuses to show the aroused demand I place on her. just as the canvas frames what it frames, the chair frames the body, frames the human body a soundbox takes held in its inflexibility. These frames—like the white frame of the figure itself, that pleated light—become indistinguishable from the flatten edges of the figure. Her body is a inning ; she is flattened and does not so much struggle to emerge from the frame but, curiously, becomes the frame .
The more I look, there is nothing to see but framing. The paint proposes “ her ” as a inning, reflexively gesturing to the function of sex as human body. Framing as a technology of representation. besides, framing as a apparatus : gender is a apparatus, even those we choose or refuse ( no-gender is besides a sex setup ). All these framings discipline, something that this digit yields to. But in doing sol, I wonder if this figure besides enacts a refusal to be known through the skeleton by being known as a frame. That is to say, in fore-placing the work of framing, the paint besides gestures to what a skeleton never captures, never knows, never can show .
About her own painting, Erica Rutherford ( 1923–2008 ) writes : “ Featureless faces opened their mouths in silent screams, as if repugnance at their deformity. Bodies were shockingly naked, with nothing to conceal their hermaphroditic lack of specialization. If they had arms, they flung these out in despair into the surrounding dark. ”
Rutherford finds her figures trapped between the absolutism of visibility ( the function imagination has in classification ) and embodiments that have no representation. A paradox : excessively visible and spiritual world. universe that is nonexistence—that does not exist as being itself. This is not utopic or liberatory ; it is catastrophic. Her painted bodies witness the violence that the viewer ( me, for case ) inflicts upon them in wanting to know—simultaneously naked ( transsexual women are always already bare, contrived to be our sex first ) and forced to scream out of mouths that are not theirs, not ours. What better description is there for the representation of transsexual women ? “ Her ” —the race and sex that make this pronoun mean—is a problem that is central to Rutherford ’ s self-portraits in the 1970s.

1.

Bodies remain trouble. incontrovertible, unknowable, and seductive, bodies are what thought wants to escape but never can. All think emanates from bone, muscle, skin, and heart, and so far to think is angstrom far as we can feel our own disembodiment. Audre Lorde and Judith Butler puzzled over the contradictions of embodiment, recognizing how systems of office and domination—particularly white domination and patriarchy—shape and reshape bodies a well as the feeling of bodily life. tied as they both suggested bodies are potentials—erotic and performative, respectively—everywhere violence defines the chain of bodies. They recognized that the unbearableness of bodily being thwarts every campaign to represent—to think—bodily potential or plenty. It is no wonder that thought—for this thinker—longs for a reprieve from—to literally, get out from—the impossible demands of bodily universe. And so far, Lorde and Butler both sympathize that disembodiment or transcendentalism were the identical drive of white supremacist patriarchy .
In trans studies, body fuss is overriding. Through changing names—transsexual, transgender, trans, trans*, genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming—trans studies has no more central a baffling than embodiment. Trans studies has followed the feminist principle that gender ought to be capacious, disrupting the presumptions that biological appointment of sex ( male/female/intersex ) scripts gender. Following this feminist dogma, trans studies has shown : 1 ) sex is relational, shaped as much by sociohistorical forces as by subjective processes ; 2 ) nonbiological agencies override anatomy and the material body, contesting ontological orders ; 3 ) gender is a condition of the autopoietic topic that can be invented and destroyed flush as the social order ( patriarchy and white domination ) hyper-invests in ever-narrowing sexual activity conscriptions .
Gender promised a suspension from the difficulty of bodies—from sexed and sexual bodies—that thought wanted, specially in trans thinking. The capaciousness of gender—indeed, its ability to suggest ideation, agency, and sociality—emboldened proposals for trans heuristics. Trans is no long obliged to be about gender or bodies, subjects or identities. Trans immediately finds attachment to any number of objects, disciplines, media, histories, and much more .
many of these are arguably advancements in hypothesis, but there remain reasons to question how an ever-expanding trans—built upon a logic of dematerializing gender—has made questions about bodies and sexes difficult to ask, even politically precarious to pose. Are there differences between bodies framed by the general terminus “ trans ” ? For example, are there fabric divergences between estrogenic and androgenic hormonal changes to bodies, or for those trans subjects that maintain their endogenous states ? If not necessity differences, might there be consequential and material differences between, say, flannel transsexual women ( with a pronoun “ she ” ) and brown gender nonconforming femmes ( with a pronoun “ they ” ) ? Do these differences shape livability, survivability, not alone in terms of racial embodiments but sexual ones as well ? And most troubling for the maxims of trans studies, does embodiment differently materialize the experience of trans maleness from femininity ? How might the generalizability of trans have enabled transsexual men to mis-conceptualize the live experiences of transsexual women ? What attention is needed to think well about differences that a trans theory simply distorts, often with transsexual women remaining unhoped or worse ?
This try is an feat to think sexual differences—specifically, those of transsexual women who became through estrogen and operating room, which is besides to say some women. possibly, it means women who took canary Premarin® tablets as an act of wanting one ’ randomness self thus finely that only the language of necessity could approximate this desire. Needs are frequently aboriginal wants that are excessively intolerable to describe as lecherousness. These estrogens might have been prescribed with anti-androgen and progesterone pills. likely, it means women who have been oversubscribed, undersubscribed, or mis-subscribed to the point of panic attacks, lineage clots, strokes, unending nausea, and heart attacks. But besides, women who have experienced nongenital orgasms that feel like bones cracking into alcoholic velvet ; a charwoman whose nipples achingly leak milk when she is afraid. All these—and numerous early contradictory effects of medicalized anti-trans violence, morphologic racism, and economic inequality—define them .
Premarin® entail, as it did for me, a charwoman who is sensorially redone—not male to female, but a arouse subject differently done in the feat to feel her body. Hormones, in this way, are not the same as medicalized embodiment, but alternatively are a supplementary register of sensation that is limited by sensational human body even as senses are excited over the border of themselves. Simply, hormonal change remakes sensoria, and this begins to modify materiality that subtends the senses. Touch, smell, and sight are disarranged, but not in the manner of some reductive “ I see immediately as early women see ” —that narrative is a hope for becoming a charwoman through her re-essentialization. alternatively, bodily sensoria are percussed beyond our smell of sensed self. sense vibrates, deranging the “ feel of this ” or the “ front of that. ” These transsexual women do not become “ more charwoman ” with hormonal exchange. No. But they do—I do—become another arouse, not female and not male, but no less materialized sexually. This sex is not biologism, not essentialism, not absolutism. Which is not to say this sex is not consequential, derived function, and substantial .
The bodies of these estrogenic women, these differently sex women, are altered by social forces responding to them fair as they are anatomically reacting to biochemical changes. Patriarchy and white supremacy—both are what make gender/sex, they are besides the materials that make her—are cataclysms that all bodies are processed through no matter their resistances or privileges. Every feat to resist arouse is besides a ratification of the racism and sexism of cultural and historic orders that translate such efforts .
transsexual women are no different ; we besides become through these lapp catastrophes, we self-fashion with, from, and through the slaughter of this violence. even though my transsexuality makes me other to female or male, other to essentialism but no less substantial, my survivability ( how I will die ) is shaped by a identical minute sociable translation of my otherwise-ness. And so far, this is not to say that the desire to refuse sociable order is only purposeless, sterile, or simply regressive. This is one of the paradoxes of wanting to change intimate difference into intimate differences .
sex and ace are these transsexual women. not barely in euphoric or positivist senses. Some wants are conscious and intentional fantasies that supreme headquarters allied powers europe decisions. While others—often held hidden within those choices—are unrepresentable and intolerable, a electronegativity that magnetizes beyond what we know but is no less than what we want. Sensation sounds deluxe, but it is besides the randomness of “ you fucking faggot ” that vibrates into her body. A white man ’ randomness fists punching as he rapes is besides assembling, as did his earlier oeillades. The systemic disregard of a neighborhood, design decisions made to immiserate and segregate, environmental degradation and other structural forces are besides the sensuousness that makes these women ’ sulfur pharaonic bodies flush as the curvature of her eye is altered by estrogen, seeing differently her position in this same region .
Both want and sensation necessitate bodies, and even the wish to be discorporate is a bodily fantasy. There is nothing fresh about this statement, but the converse of trans ( from its study to its activism ) is framed not by differences or specificities but by generalities, sharedness, and cohesions. Dean Spade recently posted on chirrup : “ Black feminist think and Black lesbian psychoanalysis and organizing are and have been all-important to trans dismissal. We can ’ t build a trans politics that actually improves trans lives ( rather of good using trans lives to justify and decorate the condition quo ) without it. ” rightly invoking the centrality of black feminist and lesbian remember for thinking about the racial logic of sex/gender systems, Spade ’ s “ trans ” and “ we ” eschew a similar committedness to deviation and specificity. Could it be that an unexpressed white trans masculinity is this “ we ” ? Is this “ trans dismissal ” ? The very distortions that Lorde diagnosed—a repudiation of difference—are evoked hera in a call for department of justice. This is not specific to Spade—he is but an example—but a more extensive problem within trans discourse—so many different subjectivities talking as one .
The generalizability of trans—not unlike the white of liberalism—Spade ’ sulfur point—obliterates the different ( and frequently contradictory ) form and build required to improve transsexual women ’ sulfur lives, to improve black and brown transwomen ’ sulfur lives. I agree with Spade : black, brown, and white transsexual women must grapple with the trouble that femininity is capacitated through the exchangeability of black femaleness. Femininity is a racial logic, and the desire for femininity is made possible through the sexuating capacity of antiblackness. This complexification of transsexual women ’ south crave for femininity deserves attention ; we deserve the work of nuanced and unmanageable think. We can grapple with the racist logic of our own figuration—something that a generalized “ trans theory ” or “ trans liberation ” or “ we ” can not provide. It is clock to deconstruct “ trans. ”

Erica Rutherford, The Green Chair, 1974. Acrylic on canvas tent. Gift of Gail Rutherford, 2009. collection of Confederation Centre Art Gallery, CAG 2009.1.26 .

2.

Frames in frames. A frame splits the figural consistency and the rectilinear shapes, canvases, pictures of the space the digit occupies, her distance. “ Her ” is framed through style, but it is no less a frame, no less a structure of perception. What frames her space are fragmented linguistic process and blocks of coloring material. The frame of language is foregrounded through its atomization ; since I do not know the mean of “ new ” or “ ter pape, ” I am confronted by the representational pull of lyric, its carry for meaning. Her pinkness, her color is repeated in surrounding squares—surfaces that come to mean peel, epidermalization. Her and her pinky-whiteness are framed as frames. The frame we call gender is here a coat, an epidermalization. “ Her ” is produced out of come on, produced out of the racialization of her surface. everywhere the paint points to the technologies of seeing, to the inning ’ s presidency. And again, this faceless figure is a refusal of the frames that make her up, but only through the contradiction of becoming frame herself .

3.

How to think about a transsexual charwoman ’ sulfur differences ? By “ a, ” I mean a specific account among many. It could be called my transsexual method—I twist to art. For me, there is artfulness in transsexuality, and it is not her doctor ’ sulfur. Trans studies and activism recommend for the conservative position of transsexual women as needy literalists. Given that anti-trans violence imbues the sociopolitical climate, this put is apprehensible, but it conceals lustier questions with ontological certitudes—it is anti-sexual. The very act of her need for Premarin® or breast implants, or facial feminization and orchidectomies, are wants in the shape, style, and feel of one ’ s sensuous self .
The misogyny and racism of surgeons and endocrinologists are obstacles for her desire. Medicalization does not define a transsexual woman—just ask her. Medicalization is what repudiates her want even as it makes her otherwise to herself and others. She is not plasticized through medicalization. On the reverse, she is confronted with the limits of a cultural order ( what structures her consciousness and preconsciousness, and the agency of the super self ) that materially translates her bodily sex, her art. transsexual women ’ randomness bodies are accretions of intimate and immanent want made legible and experiential through the aesthetics of the cultural. What is art but a constant fight with—if besides a reliance on—the protocols of aesthetics ? Susan Stryker writes, “ Nothing early than my hope brings Him [ surgeon ; but besides, Medicine ] here. ” She continues : “ Materiality constantly resists the symbolic frame. I beg it, then, to throw all language off and become ungendered flesh, but language clenches this kernel between its teeth in a death-grip. ” Invoking Lacanian terms, Stryker describes a paradox of transsexual women ’ sulfur “ hope ” —what we desire happens within materiality ’ s resistance to representation, to representation ’ mho committedness to the cultural. But, transsexuality is not the reappearance of a veridical materiality stripped of the symbolic—of the actually real—but about how sex intensifies and invents topic, even as it is conscribed by the cutting relationship between symbolic and actual registers. In begging materiality, Stryker wants to reverse the swerve kinship that the emblematic performs. But possibly her desire reveals that some women want what is besides foreclosed—they want their need. If transsexuality is sensuous intensity, it is sol because of sex ; what I would call her art.

art and aesthetics produce a fractious articulation. Transsexuality is sex ’ s inventiveness with an broken reality, nothing more than the alibi for a brutalize emblematic. It may be excessively contentious to say that transsexuality is artistry with modifications of sex as indexical signs of abandon, but I offer this as an-other fanciful, an-other ego ideal for transsexuality. An artfulness at lustful odds with ( and within ) the cultural. This conversation risks but must avoid collapsing art into self-fashioning. Might her transsexual art-making aim toward a reprieve from the engineering of selfhood ? If art is the work of rage, her artwork besides wants more than the cultural prescribes, more than the frameworks provided her. The art of transsexuality must not be confused with technologies of the self—seeing transsexuality as art places it as treatment in the material, quite than as ratification of the world ’ randomness authenticate and totalizing affair. By “ art, ” here, I mean transsexuality ’ s sexualization of the sexed consistency, and the devising of sex as an act of art .

4.

In Nine Lives : The Autobiography of Erica Rutherford, Rutherford documents her varied life as an actor, film maker, field graphic designer, printmaker, painter, militant, and professor in England, the United States, Spain, South Africa, and Canada. A penis of the Canadian Royal Academy of Arts, she painted for over forty years and was shown in major galleries in north american english and Europe. Rutherford ’ randomness manner ranged from outline expressionism—murky fields of semblance that give way to swaths of luminosity that defined her work in the 1960s—to an oneiric modernism akin to Ken Kiff. Rutherford ’ second exercise in the dreamlike paintings of the 1990s step past the divides between abstraction and figuration by suggesting that fantasy is not inverse material world but a contingent push in making the world .
During the late seventies, while undergoing sexual conversion, Rutherford experimented with self-portraiture. Starting with a present photograph of herself, she would paint from this photograph not to achieve reality, but to look at the function of photography, particularly its frame. Her flatten figures seem to merge with the apparatus of frame, both the photograph and the canvas. She pushes against portrayal ’ second cromulent affair, and with it a modern conception of photography as capture. This period of shape, I argue, refused photography ’ s privileged kinship to rendering transsexuality visible : from linear progressions of before and after to seeing transition as sexual binarism from zero to oneness, male to female, and besides the crumble of the referent to the image-matter. Photographs accompanying transsexual memoires confirmed this narrow sympathy. For the lector, the photograph demonstrated a seeing it—the indeterminate pronoun “ it ” working to materialize the transsexual transition. In contrast, Rutherford ’ s painted-self challenges photography ’ s conceit that it captures what in truth is .
In second Skins : The Body Narratives of Transsexuality, an inaugural textbook for trans studies, Jay Prosser writes about the connection between Rutherford ’ s paintings and her conversion :

A painter, Erica Rutherford paints self-portraits based on photograph she first takes of herself dressed as a woman—also concretizations of an imperceptible self … These portraits begin by envisioning the charwoman Rutherford wishes to become and are gradually transformed as she transitions into a phonograph record of that becoming .

For Prosser, Rutherford ’ mho paintings are the sexual abstraction of her photographic becoming—to be, to be a woman, is photographic. Through photography, a transsexual emerges as a subject materialized into a very self. here, Prosser pivots around the photographic referent to cohere the transsexual real with bodily matter .

In discussing the above photograph in Rutherford ’ south autobiography, Prosser goes on to say :

A paint self-portrait is situated behind the photographic Rutherford. In the paint, the seat figure is feminized through body contour, position, and dress, but the face is featureless—a blank space as undetailed by the feminine as the still-masculine face of the photographic Rutherford seated before her .

Prosser continues : “ The self-portrait is a blueprint for the transsexual national in transition : like the photograph in the autobiographies for readers, ocular means of making the transsexual ’ s gender real. ” The real number of her photograph, for Prosser, is her feminine failure—a failure the painting does not record. But, what if Rutherford ’ mho painted portrayal reflexively argues against the framework that her transsexuality is forced to represent here ? Might the photograph she takes of herself be what Rutherford paints against, knowing that the photograph aims to render her transsexuality in terms of male to female, a sexual conversion predicated on authentication and autopoiesis ? Rather than collapsing her fabric body with the photographic referent, or confusing the real with topic, Rutherford ’ s paintings provocatively attend to the imperceptibility of perceptual frames.

Prosser understands how the apparatus of representation—for Second Skins, it is the narrative form of biography, which values a linear timeline and dispute resolution—attempts to capture the discipline represented. narrative progress has few better tools than transsexual conversion to organize time and the bow of a fib. however, Prosser concludes his ledger with the reality of sex as photographic, showing how the indexicality of photography ’ sulfur referent substantiates the logic of intimate becoming. His study of “ second skins ” ( his theory of transsexuality ) ends with photography to lend it its own narrative resolving power. rather of recognizing the linear function photography plays in biographic accounts of transsexuality, Prosser turns to the photographic effigy as his theory of transsexual reality and bodily being. For Prosser, transsexuality is photographic : to be ( seen/skinned ) is sex itself : “ For transsexuals surgery is a fantasy of restoring the body to the self enacted on the surface of the body. ” Taking literally Roland Barthes ’ s assertation that photography is an indexical ( literally “ light … is a carnal medium, a skin ” ) record of “ that which has been, ” Prosser ’ s account of transsexuality is about that which is, about the reality of transsexuality as picture, as photographic. Prosser is surely not entirely in building an bill of transsexuality on a advanced presumption of photography, but more consequentially, it seems to me that much of trans studies—what we might call its canon, its political orientations, its central commitments—has relied on an investment in the being of trans that it draws from photography as its defense and—perhaps even more impoverishing—as its logic. Trans studies has a photography trouble .
Prosser ’ sulfur meditation on Rutherford initiates his argument about trans becoming that he theorizes through a particular photographic reading of Freud ’ s enigmatic instruction about the ego as “ not merely a airfoil entity, but … the projection of a open, ” that ultimately collapses the image-matter of skin and transsexual being. In Prosser ’ s careful review of Judith Butler, he demonstrates how she misreads the distinction Freud makes between soundbox and self. For Butler, the body becomes “ itself the psychic projection of a surface. ” For Freud, Prosser notes, the self is a “ product of the soundbox, not the body as a product of the ego. ” Butler conflates materiality with the mental projection of the surface of the body—collapsing the differences between Lacan ’ s mirror stage and Freud ’ mho invention of the ego. Prosser makes the case that transsexual phenomenon “ illustrate the materiality of the bodily self rather than the phantasmatic status of the arouse consistency : the material reality of the complex number and not, as Butler would have it, the imaginariness of material world. ”

In structuring this review, Prosser turns to the cinematic imagination of Jennie Livingston ’ s Paris is Burning ( 1990 ) to show how Butler ’ s account of transsexuality is metaphorized away from the sexed and race materiality of the consistency. In Butler ’ s own discussion of this film, she defines the camera as a metaphor of transsexualization : Livingston ’ s camera performs phallic maneuvering through transsexual women who want sex change ( specifically, genital operating room ), turning black and Latina transsexuals into confusions of penis and penis. Prosser explains this confusion as a repetition of Butler ’ s misread of Freud, again de-literalizing transsexuality. But what is interesting here is how like Prosser ’ s turn to photography as metonymic of transsexualization is to Butler ’ s cinematic overture .
If, as Prosser suggests, the transsexual ’ second body double “ is radically split off from the material body, ” then the description of feeling “ trapped in the improper body ” becomes uncannily similar to the capture of the referent in the emulsion of the photograph. An interior veto of the soundbox visualize is printed—with operation and hormones as march fluids—onto and as the material body. “ The peel is the venue for the physical experience of consistency image and the surface upon which is projected the psychic representation of the body. ” Prosser recognizes the trouble of Lacan ’ s occularcentrism of subjectivity, noting that that Freud emphasizes bodily sensations as forming the ego. however, he pursues the validation of the transsexual feel of wrong-bodiliness such that

operation deploys the skin and tissues to materialize the transsexual body picture with fleshy prostheses in the form of the sentient ghost-body. The surgical graft of materials endows the transsexual with the bodily referents for these fanciful and phantomized signifieds, restoring their means .

photography, it would seem, is the form of transsexuality, creating a photo-ontic. Haunted by referents—appeals to the real—transsexuality happens between referentiality and representation. The trouble with transsexualization as photograph is revealed in Prosser ’ s wish that the referentiality of transsexuality is captured ( trapped ) in photography.

The consequences of the photo-ontic of Prosser ’ s reading become clear in his late book Light in the Dark Room : photography and Loss, where he critiques his own autobiographical impulse in using a photograph of himself to end Second Skins. Guided again by his read of Barthes, Prosser recognizes that his misprint ( what Barthes described as studium ) reading of transsexual photograph missed what photography can not show ( the photograph ’ s punctum ) in its capture : affect. In returning feign ( punctum ) to transsexual photograph, Prosser writes, “ This failure to be very is the transsexual real. ” For Prosser, transsexuals never achieve their referents, never achieve the hanker for their sexed referent. It is the un-becoming of sex constipate with an overdetermined intimate visibility that defines his transsexuality. Yet, transsexual being remains, problematically, photographic.

Yes, Prosser ’ s punctum allows for the affectional, but it continues to rely on a photo-ontic. By “ photo-ontic, ” I mean how the seduction of the photographic referent produces a collapse between image-matter and being in theorizing transsexuality. even the trauma inflicted by the surgeon who cuts her up through an acting-out of racialized sexism—any transwoman who has modified her soundbox knows precisely what I mean, either as fear or actuality—remains within this photo-ontic framework for understanding transsexual being. Prosser writes “ The photograph incarnates because it takes the body of the referent … I may never recover my first skin. But the realization of that loss is my second skin. ” His photo-ontic : not being is transsexual being as enacted through the logic of photography. Image-matter, even in its most evanescent and affectional shape, defines transsexual being. The implications of transsexual-as-photograph are that the transphobic logic of spectacular spectacle defines transsexuality, obscuring early “ bodily sensations ” that stigmatize the influence of sex .

5.

Rutherford writes :

then, at the here and now when they seemed most to threaten me, they staggered, dropped to the floor and in helpless crouched postures withdrew themselves. In this side, though smaller, they hush thrived, fattening themselves, assuming sensuous curves of a sex they could never know, growing breasts that obtruded indecently from their infantile bodies until they appeared deformed infants, aberrations of nature. capriciously, they now assumed joyful colors, reds and yellows, as if to ensure that no one could ignore their presence .

Instead—and what I can read from Rutherford ’ s refusal—let us take badly the sex of sexual activity change : the privation that can not be fully metabolized by the social ( ego ideals that refuse ideal egos ) while modifying the real ’ s own becoming, its ongoing materializations, sexualizations, and concatenations. possibly alternatively of Rutherford ’ randomness paintings as primitive accounts of her becoming a womanhood, her painting proposes that photography is the primitive technology for representing transsexuality ( let alone for modeling transsexuality on ). Rutherford does not show who she is becoming but shows what forces—and cultural aesthetics—are at work in delimiting that emergence, that potential. Working against photography as record, against becoming real through photographic logics, Rutherford ’ s paintings string attention to those technical modes of percept that limit what the consistency is or might be. And more specific to Rutherford : What if a realist hypothesis of photography has produced reproducible narratives about transsexual women ’ second lives—even to ourselves—that refuse bodily dispute and those experiences that exceed the sex/gender schema ?

But Freud continues to define “ projection of a airfoil ” as a sensuousness that is derived from the body, but not as a literalization of the airfoil of that body. Embodiment—the sense of feeling bodily—is a sensuous rapport between affectional states we might call at heart and outside. At every target in this relay, fantasy makes sense of sensations refracted through an inaccessible, but no less significant, materiality. In other words, bodily sense is produced through sensuous surfeit, not through a accurate harmonium of sense. Might, then, transsexuality not be simply about skin—one organ dedicated to touch and vision—but an overindulgence that has no example ? Despite Prosser ’ s review of Butler ’ s imagistic ( and as such, performative ) read of the body self, he besides organ-izes the body ego through a phenomenology of photography ( a studium-only explanation of the body—what literally is present-ed—as described by Barthes in Camera Lucida ), with transsexuality as idealize example. The referential surface—what I read Rutherford ’ s art working against—is the human body that delimits transsexuality into a visibility, into a logic of the photo-self as sex. For Rutherford, transsexuality is not ontologically a hide to be imagistically realized. alternatively, transsexuality is what infuses the torso ( even as limit ) with sex as a register of illusion always aiming toward what is so far nameless, the otherwise that designates transsexuality.

What would it mean for Rutherford ’ s paintings if we returned sex ( not identity, but libido ) to transsexuality ? To “ assume sensuous curves of a sex [ we ] could never know ” ?

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