Joshua Edward (they/them) shares reflections on gender as a consumerable in their recent video work, Coca Cola
This work was created to implicitly explore my experience with gender and the gender constructed environments within which I exist. Through the study of point it became relentlessly obvious that we are entirely surrounded by points in time. The idea that we never reach a point, or that when we do another appears, becomes implicit. It is clear to me that all actions and reactions can be condensed or extracted to represent points on a larger scale.
Our point of consumption or conception or consumerism or embodiment forms the point of change. Change is a monumental concept: change in mind, body, environment etcetera. I try to focus on this point of change explicitly in relation to myself. In a way, I’ve found that even changes which seem small or fleeting are actually an extended process. Change is not often as sudden as we think, it is rare that change occurs unprovoked or out of nowhere. Change is evoked sometimes from within, however, external influences are inherently involved.
Femininity and the consumption of it has acted as a catalyst for change in terms of defining my gender. Society requires that which is feminine to be sexually attractive/available, nurturing and deferential. Femininity is framed as maternal ritualised submission. But we do consume it, we are impressed by it. Some of us, in love with it. But what happens when a ‘man’ expresses his femininity or a ‘woman’ doesn’t? What non-gendered terms do we have for those not looking to submit to traits that are considered masculine or feminine? And what if overt masculinity or femininity is a reclamation to certain individuals within a marginalised community?
What I found interesting were other people’s perceptions of gender as evoked by this piece. ‘It’s a Man wearing a dress, and that’s not what we expect or usually see.’ Identifying as Non-Binary and using they/them pronouns rendered this comment untrue, however, put simply it was probably the most accurate reaction to my piece (in my opinion). This viewer was questioning archetypal gender stereotypes and her consumption of gender. Another viewer described the piece as a ‘castration,’ a removal of the male gender, a conflict or confrontation of what society deems as male or female. Being so aware of my gender identity made it difficult to be in a space where I was misgendered quite relentlessly, and it was interesting to see the habitualized nature of assuming gender. The unease experienced refers directly to the posed question: What non-gendered terms do we have for those not looking to submit to traits that are considered masculine or feminine?
Joshua Edward is a Melbourne based artist currently studying at the VCA. Their work explores experiences of transness, queer politics, the strength of fragility and intersectionality and the consumption of media.