This video is a nature documentarist project as well as a nude performance art piece, made in homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus (1818), with a hint of Albert Camus’s The Stranger (1942). Dr. Frankenstein’s creature is a human surgically created out of multiple corpses. This literary symbol of transgression and tragedy is often simply referred to as the monster. Meanwhile, the term 'monster' is a common insult against the transgender population who are accused of having unnatural desires and bodies. Then, what would happen when Frankenstein’s monster gardens an affinity for Nature? In extension, may the transgender body claim Nature, the origin of all Creations, as its own mirror? Upon recognizing Nature itself is monstrous, monsters may live their liberating existence to the fullest potential.

 

In TRANS/PLANT, the monster, a lone habitant in the world of the dark, comes into contact with the first embodiment of life in its history: a plant. Inspired by this strange encounter, the monster leaves home and pursues eternity through the power of the Sun. But the light is the double-edged sword of nature, nurturing and torturing. Just as any transplanted plant (diasporic flora, so to speak) may experience unsettlement and even wilt to death, the monster finds its place in the world of the light dizzying. Following the monster’s journey of self-redemption, the video raises questions not about where life ends and death begins, but rather, where death ends and life begins. Here, flora and its adaptability, a mutability without mobility, are recurring visual metaphors for reincarnation—or life fueled with death, the very physical condition of the monster.

 

 

© 2020 by KAHN J. RYU