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Steinbock, Eliza, and . Generative Negatives: Del LaGrace Volcano’s Herm Body Photographs

2014, Transgender Studies Quarterly 1(4): 539-551.

Summary: In conventional film photography, negatives are used in the darkroom to produce positive images, but in the outmoded medium Polaroid 665 the positive image is used to make a unique negative that can then be employed to make positive prints in the future. This generativity of the Polaroid 665 negative is used by the artist to mirror the complexity of feelings regarding intersex bodies. The series shows how negative affect can be productive and political, even when it appears to suspend agency.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as empowerment and art's role in power relations in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Del LaGrace Volcano, Herm Body (2011- )

Self-portraits which clearly reference the work of John Coplans and reflect on Volcano’s midlife embodiment changed by hormones, age, and weight. The title draws attention to the materiality of its subject, insisting that we receive the body as ‘herm’ – a word Volcano uses to name intersex history and claim trans embodiment.