All axes blur in transit

Transpoetic choreography and memorial

“The OPEN sign flickers. Replace OPEN with acquiescence. Replace OPEN with displace. Replace OPEN with a fist in the mouth. Replace the fist with a lake. The lake chokes on its pronoun.” Photo by MIKI Yoshihito, via Flickr.

In Antigone by Sophocles, the protagonist attempts to secure proper burial for her brother, Polynices. While reading, I meditated on the applicability of the drama as it applies to the transgender community. Discrimination takes a violent toll in the form of cis supremacy. Antigone’s objective, for me, is evocative of the LGBTQI+ family and alternative forms of self-organizing as a means of survival within pervasive heteronormativity. I reread this myth when the Human Rights Campaign released the 2017 archive of trans lives lost due to systemic violence. Today, symbolic burial or memorialization is entangled with grievability and the politics of subjectivity.

The objective of this piece is not to dwell on the brutality, victimization of lives in general, nor recreate trauma. Rather, it seeks to limn the systems that perpetuate it and infiltrate to intentionally subvert the historically affirmed two-sex categories. The names, ages, and quoted eulogies are borrowed from the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Index. One could argue that the quoted eulogies are redundant or reductive since value and personhood are inherent to all peoples. However, through the appropriation of these names and testimonials, this score insists that action is derived from our ability to lovingly remember, and the belief that love is a form of resistance.

All Axes Blur in Transit is a performance score that appropriates a web-based archive to uncover bodies targeted by antitransgender discrimination and violence through active response. The text — if performed — is translated by eight cis, trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming performers (or performers whose identities are not encapsulated by any of the aforementioned terminologies). The repeated numbered brackets throughout offer space for choreographed resurgence, re-representation, shuffling, and negotiation of competing presences through gesture, dialogue, and/or shifting comportment. Furthermore, anything in brackets, including names and testimonials, may be embodied/exhibited through one of the aforementioned means, or another (such as projected text, echoing, interaction). Syntax (such as brackets or curly braces) becomes a way to temporarily frame the fluid state of sexuality and gender identity, which contains the noun (or verb or directive) and imply an incongruity between assumed patterns of genotypic and phenotypic, or standard male and female, expressions. In this regard, I am interested how the word “sex” may relate to both sexual orientation and gender, and therefore “sex” here implies the active un/doing and underlying fluidity within, and between, both of these terms.

I intend for performers to not rely solely on indicated space to insert themselves into the text, but annotate the margins, perform erasure, highlight, or hyperlink. The score, in turn, dissolves into an exoskeleton as the performer’s narratives, redactions, anecdotal roleplaying, rants, and gestural or choreographed sequences consume the text itself. This text exists as ephemera. Meanwhile, the “Open” sign hanging and flickering in a business window signals the commodification of the body, regulated like hours of operation and constraints of participation. The Open sign hanging and flickering in a business window signals a body granted entry and freedom of expression. Or, all axes — the imaginary lines around which bodies or objects spin or rotate — blur in transit.

All Axes Blur in Transit


1                                Insert how you see yourself here

2                                Insert how you see yourself here

3                                Insert how you see yourself here

4                                Insert how you see yourself here

5                                Insert how you see yourself                 here

6                                Insert how you              your self                         here

7                                 Insert how you                           self       here                   herehere

8                                 Insert how        insert you        [here]   insert self here and                   {here}



“Another husband could be found and with that husband another son. But I have no mother now. I have no father. I cannot bring another brother to the world.”
— Antigone 

One {sex} ties the other into a very sexual knot and presses verbatim into the soft contour. Meanwhile, the knotted {sex} shoulders guilt. The knot declines into a two-sided paper apology, and folds into a pocket, double washed on delicate cycles. 

The {[sexes]} exaggerate deficiencies based on or debased through glossy caricatures of one {sex] holding the [insert body part] of the other [sex] while smiling or [insert active verb.]

A third and fourth {[[sex} enter. The third {sex]} questions the order, and by doing so re-orders it, if for anyone but themselves. If for anyone but [insert gendered pronoun]selves. If for anyone but [insert gendered pronoun]selves. If for anyone but [insert gendered pronoun]selves.

At a beach all {[{{[{[[{{{[{{{[[[{[[[{{{{{[[[sexes]}]}]}}}]]}]}}}}}}]] gather to take a group portrait, like a television show of a dysfunctional family agreeing to agree briefly with one another. The group leans back in well-timed laughter. Waves focus and unfocus inside of a lens. Meanwhile, the audience debates which of the [{{[{[sexes}}]]} will have sex with which of the other {[{sexes}]}. In a window, a neon OPEN sign turns off. 



“Another [insert relation] could be found and with that [insert relation] another [insert relation]. But I have no [insert relation or noun] now. I have no [insert relation or noun]. I cannot bring another [insert relation or abstraction] to the world.”
— Antigone

A {{sex}} furnishes [insert pronoun]selves as if by expectation or as if by acclimating to an Airbnb for a slightly longer than desired amount of time. “The mini fridge isn’t cold enough,” one might say about their [insert body part].

Domestic references are associated with the {[{[[{{[sexes}}]]}}]]}, their intimacy, and their claim to property that has historically granted certain rights and privileges. The OPEN sign is turned around, turned off.

One [sex] notices where their blood flows when another {sex} opens the curtains. Replace curtains with mouth. Replace mouth with window. Replace window with an intrusive thought. Replace the intrusive thought with politics. For example, if three {[[{{{{[sexes]]}}] are in one bed, who is granted the most surface area and covers on the mattress? 

Imagine a small mirror held in the mouth. Imagine sexuality refracting as an external split image. Imagine one’s chosen or socially designated {sex]] refracting as an internal split image. Imagine a dotted line connecting image A to image B, and back to the mouth. Draw a circle around the mouth with red paint. Imagine a still wet portrait of a [insert {{{sex}]] and a sharp corner. Imagine pedestrians as wet portraits turning corners in commute. We blur in transit.

If one {{sex] is between sexes but is misgendered then any disorientation must be resolved in the speaker. A painting is turned on its side and hung. Step back. The OPEN sign blinks on and off twice for reentry. 

“Another [Mesha Caldwell, 41] could [not] be found and with that [Sean Hake, 23; Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28; JoJo Striker, 23; Keke Collier, 24] another [Chyna Gibson, 31; Ciara McElveen, 26; Jaquarrius Holland, 18; Alphonza Watson, 38; Chay Reed, 28; Kenneth Bostick, 59; Sherrell Faulkner, 46]. [...] I have no [insert relation or noun] now. I have no [insert relation or noun]. I cannot bring another [insert relation or abstraction] to the world.”
— Antigone


8                                Insert how you see yourself here

                               Insert how you see yourself here

6                                Insert how you see yourself here

5                                Insert how you see yourself here

4                                Insert how you see yourself                 here

3                                Insert how you              your self                         here

                                Insert how you                           self       here                   herehere

                                Insert how        insert you        [here]   insert self here and                   {here}


To dress is to wear, to do, and it is a choice everyday whether or not a {{sex]]} aligns with their prescribed phenotypical tight cotton / polyester / sequined / strap on / bow tie and cuffed slacks / where did you buy / Made in the US / unisex corduroy jumpsuit / my favorite part are the tassels / but the fabric is imported from [insert country here]. 

How do you explain that a [sex} is not defined by sexuality or genitalia or vice versa? Sometimes all aspects of sex drain from the senses, and every [[{{sex]]}} is an individual with a wide variety of problems (beyond control), which they in turn (as anyone may) try to control. [Insert problems here.]

Through the mirror is a mirror is an OPEN sign flickering is genitalia is a flickering is a {sex} is a mirror a mirror a window to another [sex] a flickering OPEN sign where it hurts. [Insert pronoun] walks through the mirror, and into a lukewarm portrait. Try warming it up for thirty more seconds, suggests a friend. [Insert finger here to test the temperature.] 

[Insert the amount of weight a {[sex} carries here [Insert amount added due to misunderstandings [to take off with cotton at night [to be naked with the [mirrors [here, listen [here, feel, it’s so [insert sensory description] While in sex, the face presses up against a mirror, or a window. The smell of vaseline or latex or oil or incense or [insert here].]

“Another [Kenne McFadden, 27; Kendra Marie Adams, 28; Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17; Ebony Morgan, 28] could [not] be found and with that [TeeTee Dangerfield, 32; Jaylow McGlory, 29; Gwynevere River Song, 26] another [Kiwi Herring, 30; Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28]. But I have no [“femandrogyne” “social butterfly” “inspirational member of our community”] now. I have no [“human rights”]. I cannot bring another [“just wanted to be loved”; “playful spirit,” Derricka Banner, 26; Scout Schultz, 21; Ally Steinfeld, 17; Stephanie Montez, 47; “she would give me the clothes off her back,” Candace Towns, 30; Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31; “loving” Brandi Seals, 26] to the world.”
— Antigone

Wounded Arrow worked in customer service and loved to spend her free time at the library. Sean “had a genuinely good heart and struggled with his problems.” The legs open. The heart opens. The OPEN sign flickers. Replace OPEN with acquiescence. Replace OPEN with displace. Replace OPEN with a fist in the mouth. Replace the fist with a lake. The lake chokes on its pronoun.

7                                Insert how you see yourself here

5                                Insert how you see yourself here

2                                Insert how you see yourself here

3                                Insert how you see yourself here

8                                Insert how you see yourself                 here

1                                Insert how you              your self                         here

6                                Insert how you                          self        here                   herehere

4                                Insert how        insert you        [here]   insert self here and                  {here}




Blood pumps upward to the OPEN sign, on.