I was lying on the floor of Tate Modern, weeping. In a good way.
On Tuesday 4th I was a day early for the Cezanne exhibition. I could have upgraded my membership to include private views for £40, but instead visited the Tanks. Here is where the fuel for the power station was stored. Now they are cavernous rooms lined with concrete. They have a gorgeous, grungy grandeur. Right now this particular circular room, many decametres across, holds “Enmeshed”, with traditional symbols of indigenous cultures. By the wall to the right of the entrance is Piña, Why is the Sky Blue? I did not look at the caption before asking to try the VR headset- I am a sucker for the things- and after a minute’s wait I was sitting on a large, low beanbag, watching Piña, who is nonbinary. I took in the male nipples, the makeup, the feminine presentation. They swam in 3D towards me and looked into my eyes. They applied foundation. Then I floated through rooms so enlarged that I could have been a fly.
I lay back on the beanbag and wept. I am not used to positive representation, and it was beautiful. It is hard to blow my nose in the headset, but there is a small hole to breathe through and it was just enough.
I handed back the headset and said how moved I was, and the curator told me on the third floor there is further exploration of gender. Here is Nash Glynn’s self-portrait. Not this one, but “Self portrait with one foot forward and one hand reaches out”: naked, she reaches back to us to lead us into the valley towards the rainbow. She is viewed from knee level: above the knees, the background is the sky, with fluffy pink clouds. It is a gorgeous, confident image.
Ah. Here it is. More of her work here.
Out of the next room came a couple, a gorgeous tall woman, beautifully got up, and I looked at the bone structure of her face and thought, yeah. Probably. I wish we could acknowledge each other. It is internalised transphobia which prevents us. We are all brave, just for existing, and might encourage each other.
There is a content warning for the video in that room, so I did not watch it. And, there are several examples from Laura Aguilar’s “Clothed/Unclothed” sequence. Nonbinary Luz Calvo, naked, has a sign over their genitals reading “Fuck your gender”.
It was all too much for me. The most important thing in the world for me is to preserve my equanimity. My mother traumatised me into an enmeshed relationship when I was a child. I was not allowed my own thoughts or feelings, only hers. Though she is dead I want to keep my mobile face impassive, and hide my emotions even from myself. So most of the time I stay indoors. I have heard people use the word “dissociated” recently, and worked out what they find remarkable is my default state.
I wandered back to the tube over the Millennium Bridge. I got the idea of a selfie with the dome of St Pauls appearing as a hat. A woman noticed, and offered help, then got her husband to try, but this is one I took myself. Unfortunately with the grey sky the dome is washed out. So I may try again, if I am there in better weather.