The Fellows Backstage Will Do (2020)

The Fellows Backstage Will Do (2020) is a series of 7 digital collages that unpack set construction to dissect the fall of the idealized American Cowboy. A cowboy typically represents a patriarchal colonizer under the guise of a rugged warrior that aids in the 'development of civilization' at the expense of people of color. Despite this, many queer artists, such as Tom of Finland, have approached disassembling the binary through queering and fetishizing the cowboy trope. While this can increase exposure of queer narratives, it also can create reiterations of hegemonic masculinity by prioritizing certain queer male relations over others.

As a result, my work ironically makes fun of essentialized hyper masculinity as various replaceable actors interact with an ever-changing set as they play the role of a 'cowboy' or a 'farmer' in a grotesque and fragmented manner. In order to covey the death of the male ego, I feature the distorted actors in both moments of action and moments of wardrobe change to showcase frontier masculinity as a curated façade. By working in black and white, I use the language of the western film genre to emphasize the liminality of sets as both public and private spaces. At first, the viewer only sees the illusion of the scene, in which the repetitive figures horrifically merge and melt within elements of the set.

As this disturbing relationship continues, I destroy the viewer's understanding of reality by removing them further from the narrative, as more and more set equipment and crew members appear. In breaking the logic of material and imagined space, I revel in the fine line between pathos and bathos to destroy the imaginary concept of man. By destabilizing this thought process, I create a conscious investigation about the power of gender performance.

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