NO GENDER took shape in Vietnam over fifteen years ago, when Sylvain Tremblay was visiting an orphanage with an adoption organization. Someone put a baby, said to be a hermaphrodite, in his arms. The event left a permanent mark on him. He was fascinated to think that he had come face to face with a being who was simultaneously male and female. Learning that we have this “variation in sex” as part of humanity’s richness, and that someone would seek to decide the gender of these unique individuals for them, without their consent, upset Tremblay. Ever since, he has wondered: what if they were wrong?
The artist and his team have made a number of trips to countries around the globe, seeking out intersexuals (the term for those born with a variation in sexual characteristics). This project presents the accounts of intersex people on different continents, who proclaim their right to exist and to choose their own sex. The process clarified the importance of not assigning a sex at birth. Everyone agreed: society imposes gender – male or female, with no other options.
Through this project, Sylvain Tremblay speaks out against this situation and offers a reflection on the themes of isolation, physical difference and acceptance in all societies.
The installation comprises twelve canvases, all the same size (72 in. x 72 in.), and a video.
The series of canvases includes six general works and six portraits of individuals encountered on several continents. The canvases are steeped in red, evoking blood which, for the artist, represents life and death. There is also a lot of nudity in this series. It expresses the integrity of the human body. The artist sees these paintings hung on white walls, all in the same room. Eight of them have special lighting (neon) and require electrical outlets nearby.
The video is the thirteenth work in the installation. It will be projected on the wall, in the same format as the paintings (72 in. x 72 in.).
The arrangement of the installation will vary depending on the exhibition space.
Finally, note that this show is accompanied by a 64-page colour booklet which includes pieces by journalist Mylène Tremblay, members of the team and some of the intersexuals encountered.