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Contextual essay

This website is a digital exploration and archive of my artwork. It is born out of my interest in cyberfeminism and the important role the internet has had in my artistic and personal development. In creating this virtual space, I attempted to encapsulate my interdisciplinary and multimedia approach to artmaking, as well as explore art’s contemporary nature and potential to be digital, timeless, mutable, and accessible. I am interested in making art that stands the test of time – both thematically, visually, and physically, while also being capable of shapeshifting, and I believe the internet and digital technology can make this more attainable. In this digital space, the viewer and I are not limited by physical boundaries and social restrictions. We are both free to explore. This notion became clear to me after my research on Glitch Feminism, Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, and cyberfeminism, which all inspired me in the making of this website.

A piece that perfectly encapsulates my interest in the link between personal/artistic development and the internet is my video Joa glitches and becomes their own avatar, which weaves together video clips of my journey through gender expressions from adolescence into young adulthood. As cyberfeminism and Glitch Feminism states, the internet can serve as a muse and a platform, where creative and authentic self-expression can happen without barriers and

filters. This is especially true for marginalized minority subjects (Russell, 2020) (Haraway, 2013). As a young queer person from a small town in Denmark, the internet taught me that it was possible to glitch and become my own avatar.

In line with cyberfeminism, I am interested in the aesthetics and themes of Science Fiction and Fantasy because these genres offer the possibility of imagining alternative worlds and utopian futures, as well as critiquing the past and the present. Because of their subversive potential, I have often wondered why these genres do not seem to involve queer themes and characters more often. Much like the internet, Sci-Fi and Fantasy have latent potentials for liberating queer people, yet all three of them, just like the rest of cultural enterprises, reflect the dominant tendencies of human society – in other words: Heteronormativity. According to José Esteban Muñoz, “Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or a concrete possibility for another world.” (2009, p. 1) In my art, I am interested in tapping into the queer potential of Fantasy and Sci-Fi and counteract the dominant heteronormative worldview permeating them. Queerness continues to be hidden from public life in many cultures all over the world, and therefore I believe there is an urgent need for artists to imagine better futures and challenge current societal constructs through a queer lens. In my video piece Gammamorph I tried to do this by reclaiming queerness as an inherent part of human history, mythology, and evolution – and by extension – Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I wanted to visualize something that drew a line all the way through prehistorical times to our modern high-tech age. This was meant as a contestation to our current patriarchal understanding of history, in which queerness has been largely erased (Evans, 2018).


Screenshots from Gammamorph.

In my research about the link between queerness and Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I found the book Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction, which discusses the inherent queerness of these genres:

If we then take as the central task of queer theory the work of imagining a world in which all lives are livable, we understand queer theory as being both utopian and science fictional, in the sense of imagining a future that opens up, rather than forecloses, possibilities for becoming real, for mattering in the world (Pearson. Hollinger. Gordon., 2008, p. 5).

This quote explains my life-long attraction to otherworldly and ethereal stories and visuals. I saw in these spaces an opportunity to be myself. I did not see my reality reflected in the world around me, so I had to create it through art with inspiration from Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and mythology. To understand my artwork, it is crucial to understand the connection between queerness and Sci-Fi. Otherwise, my thematic focus on gender and sexuality can seem disjointed from my otherworldly visuals.

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The alienation I have experienced has thus been reflected in my art from a young age. It has made me wonder about my personal place in the world, but it has also provoked more general questions about the nature of humankind and the systems we are entrenched in on this planet. I have often wondered why our lives are structured the way they are and how it came to be – regarding everything from our biology to our social systems. To learn more about this, I started reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. This research coincided with the creation of my piece Homo Philanimus, which is a small sculpture (30cmx24cm) depicting a tender social interaction between two humanoid creatures. Initially, I was not aware of the relation this piece had to the knowledge I would acquire from reading Sapiens, but it became evident within the first few pages of the book, where Harari (2014) describes the early days of human evolution. I learned that the Earth was once populated by several human species, Homo rudolfensis, Homo Erectus and Homo Neanderthalensis just to name a few.

Homo Philanimus in progress.

The truth is that from about 2 million years ago until around 10,000 years ago, the world was home, at one and the same time, to several human species. And why not? Today there are many species of foxes, bears, and pigs. The earth of a hundred millennia ago was walked by at least six different species of man (Harari, 2014, p. 8-9).

Harari poses the question: "What kind of cultures, societies and political structures would have emerged in a world where several different human species coexisted?" (p. 19) This sparked my imagination. I started to see Homo Philanimus as my science fictional attempt at speculating about this exact topic. Maybe another human species could have evolved in this way, had they not been overtaken by Homo Sapiens, or maybe a group of Homo Sapiens could branch off in the future and evolve into Homo Philanimus?

I made up the word Philanimus as a contraction of the Ancient Greek word Philía, meaning ‘highest form of love’, and the Latin word Animus, meaning ‘soul’ translating roughly to ‘loving soul’. Furthermore, Animus in Jungian psychology refers to the subconscious masculine aspects of the female psyche. Even though Jungian psychology depends on gender essentialist assumptions, I liked the inherent unintended gender subversion behind this concept, as it describes something feminine harboring masculinity within it.

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I was envisioning a species that embodied sexual ambiguity and a non-binary way of life. I imagined Homo Philanimus as functioning in a more loving, kind, and spiritually evolved way than Homo Sapiens, but also within a different social structure and with a different biology. As a trans person, I find myself struggling with living as a member of a sexually dimorphic species, that organizes itself according to patriarchal values and divides all organisms into genders. Most of my current projects stem from this discomfort in some way or another. Homo Philanimus, Gammamorph and Ontoancestral Octopost all fall under the category of ‘speculative fabulation’ or simply ‘SF’ as it has been named by Donna Haraway (2016). They are a way for me to imagine alternative realities.

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The name Homo Philanimus is also a pun on homosexuality as the two creatures look almost identical, with matching genitalia, and one is suggestively and intimately braiding the other’s hair. I wanted to envision a humanoid species that lives beyond the gender binary and is not reliant on sexual duality to survive, but instead has hermaphroditic reproductive capacities. As usual with Sci-Fi, the piece was also a symbolic commentary on our present reality. I wanted to show that it is possible to move away from a gendered view on anatomy and sexual reproduction and instead learn to look at each other’s bodies with open, wondering minds and thereby interact in more sensitive ways.

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Another exciting coincidence happened when I went to The National Gallery of Denmark and saw the work of Danish artist Rasmus Myrup. His erotic drawings depicting human male bodies merged with plant elements caught my attention. I read that this was Myrup’s reflection on sexual reproduction as a gay man. As a queer person, one can easily be made to feel ‘unnatural’ due to the often non-reproductive nature of queer sexuality, and to counter this, it can be necessary to change one’s outlook on biology and purpose. I found commonalities between Myrup’s and my own alienation, and I was pleased and surprised to see that I am not alone in my exploration of these topics. Myrup’s work, like mine, seeks to critique common understandings of the purpose of nature and humanity as rooted in heterosexuality in favor of a queer understanding of biology that is more complex and all-embracing.

Myrup, R. (2019) His Sperm, Angiosperm (Dandelion) [Drawing]. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (Viewed: 1 August 2021).

“When you are a kid, you learn about nature in the sense of reproduction, like a seed becoming a flower,” Myrup tells L'OFFICIEL. “As a gay person I just felt estranged; it was not something that I could belong to. The genesis of my artistic practices was a way to understand that nature is masturbating, having anal sex and orgies” (2020).

In my own experience, I needed to reframe everything I had been taught about gender to make sense of my existence in the world as a transfeminine person. Peculiarly, both Myrup and I tackled this task of reclaiming nature by making pieces that were based on the Latin word for human beings – ‘homo’. Myrup even had a solo exhibition titled Homo Homo (2018), which entailed a big installation consisting of natural scenery with pictures depicting the Homo Homo species. Like Homo Philanimus, Homo Homo is a metaphor for the ever-present queerness that is integral to all life. They are a reframing of queer people and their actions as being a part of nature, not somehow outside of it or against it.

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Myrup, R. (2018) Homo Homo Neanderthalensis (Spooning) [Drawing]. Tranen Space for Contemporary Art, Denmark.

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Myrup, R. (2018) Homo Homo [Installation]. Tranen Space for Contemporary Art, Denmark.

In continuation of this queer and feminist counter-perspective to the dominant patriarchal interpretation of the natural world, I watched the movie Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival. In the movie, Haraway (2016) says: "Some of the best thinking is done as storytelling" (36:15). I felt that this notion could be applied to the way I am currently working, as I am generating artistic, playful, and intuitive philosophy through my art. I am trying to say something innovative about the human condition by worldbuilding and developing characters that live beyond our common judgments of reality. For Haraway, it is important to imagine new ways of living in a world damaged by capitalism and ecological disruption, instead of only critiquing it.

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Screenshot from Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival.

In the movie, Haraway also talks about ‘making kin’ or forming untraditional, non-reproductive models for living in community with other organisms. This is one of the key points, among others, in Haraway’s philosophy, that inspired the making of my sculpture Ontoancestral octopost. Haraway’s idea of flattening the hierarchies between species, and realizing our inherent connectedness resonated with me in my deep reflections on embodiment as a trans person. Our society tends to essentialize biological features and functions in a way, that any person who is an outsider, intuitively knows is false. When you do not feel included in society’s understanding of normativity, it seems obvious to question all the assumption that this normativity depends on.

With Ontoancestral Octopost I wanted to tell a story about a creature that is frighteningly foreign to us, Homo Sapiens, but also related to us. It is an eight-legged organism that you can stand inside and become one with. I wanted to convey our inescapable strangeness/queerness, and what we came from and what we might become. Onto like ‘ontology’ refers to ‘being, existing’, and combined with ancestral it forms a word that could mean ‘inherited existence’ or ‘being of the past’. Octopost is a pun on ‘octopus’, with the two Latin words octo and post respectively meaning ‘eight’ and ‘after’. Eight-legged creatures are commonly associated with danger, disgust, and alienation. Octopost therefore refers to an unknown and seemingly monstrous future. In conclusion, Ontoancestral Octopost roughly means ‘that which always was and always will be weird’. If we as human beings try to take a step back and look at ourselves with open eyes, we might see that we are just as alien as a scorpion, an octopus, or a trans person. We might as well be eight-armed/legged, asymmetrical, atypical, and fluid. Without doubt, we are forever and always throughout the generations, genera, and galaxies weird. Again, my focus was on reframing nature as queer and offering a new perspective on ways of living that could inspire a more inclusive world among Homo Sapiens and other species.


Ontoancestral Octopost in progress, Southwark Park Galleries, 31 January 2022.

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Illustration from Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016) by Donna Haraway.

Another artist who works within what could be identified as speculative fabulation is Luke Routledge. I saw Routledge’s work at Saatchi Gallery in London, where he was showing a big installation titled The Apple, the Egg and the Butterfly. The installation consisted of an assembly of colorful otherworldly creatures that seemed to be hybrids between humans, other animals, and objects. Different artifacts like signs, pictures, and books were also scattered around the scene. There was a sense of mystery to the piece, which inspired wonder and joy among the spectators. One person asked me where I thought this scene might take place - an experience I rarely have at an art museum. It was clear that this artwork was a success among the visitors. This gave me confidence in the potential of SF-rooted art to catch the attention of an audience and make them question what is going on in an inquisitive manner.

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I relate to Routledge’s multimedia approach, which incorporates kinetic and electronic elements that make his environments come alive with animatronic beings. In the future, I am interested in also exploring the possibility of creating larger installations to expand the worlds I am depicting.

What I find fascinating in Routledge’s work is his playful ability to engage in worldbuilding/worlding. His installations are loopholes into stories that take place in alternate realities. Whether these stories and worlds have a political message is not clear. Still, the very act of visualizing other worlds is a practice that I find inherently subversive because it destabilizes the arrogant certainty with which we perceive our reality. There seemed to be references to alchemy and mythology in Routledge’s installation, which points towards an occult worldview. Occultism has been feared, suppressed, and ridiculed since Christianity came to power, which draws links to queerness and other marginalized forms of living or perceiving the world. The archetypal image of ‘the witch’ or ‘the sorcerer’ has had a powerful place in many human cultures for centuries (Evans, 2018, p. 11). It could be argued that the esoteric spiritual knowledge that these people possessed has clear links to the contemporary ecofeminist queer movement. In my opinion, Donna Haraway’s cyborg philosophy is modern alchemy or witchcraft.

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Artists have always explored the occult in different ways. One example is surrealism, one of my favorite genres, which Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, two of my favorite surrealist artists, were a part of. Surrealism has many things in common with SF, in that it is a way of seeing things with radical eyes and being imaginative about the world in critical ways (Surrealism Beyond Borders (2022)). Both Carrington and Varo were inspired by esoteric practices and knowledge in their artwork, which is not surprising after I saw their paintings at the show Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern. The aim of the show was to map surrealism as a historical movement in its global scale through a postcolonial lens. The apparent connectedness of the movement points further to its esoteric nature. There seems to be something universal and collective about surrealism. It has the potential to go beyond identity markers like nationality, and further to question the categories of gender and sexuality. I believe this is one of the reasons I have always been attracted to the genre. One of the few places in the show where I found a somewhat similar approach as my own, that tapped into this queer/feminist potential, was in Carrington and Varo’s paintings. They were deeply enigmatic and seemed to defy schisms such as human/animal, man/woman, and organism/machine. Maybe these artists were already hinting at a feminist cyborg worldview several decades before Haraway…

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Carrington, L. (1944) Chiki, Ton pays [Painting]. Tate Modern, London (Viewed: 23 April 2022).

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Varo, R. (1962) The Escape [Painting]. Tate Modern, London (Viewed: 23 April 2022).

In my own art, I set out to answer a similar fundamental question as the exhibition at Tate Modern, which is: What does surrealism look and feel like when it comes from another perspective than the one, we are most familiar with? In a surrealist space where everything is possible, it is easier to exist as a queer person, and imagine fantastical futures or alternate worlds that are more inclusive than the one we currently live in.

Fable of the Shameless Forest Nymphs and their Sexy Mutant Dreams - A video piece I made with my partner in February 2021, which I felt had similarities with Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo's work.

In recent years, there has been a focus on bringing forgotten voices and perspectives to the forefront of culture and acknowledging the historic erasure that has happened. Carrington and Varo are examples of this within art history and specifically the surrealism movement, where female artists were largely overlooked. This historic, systematic erasure has resulted in a current culture, where large parts of the population think of LGBTQIA+ people as a new phenomenon. In my art, I try to visualize queerness as a timeless presence, and in my research about the erased history of queerness I came across the book The Evans Symposium: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture and Moon Lady Rising. The book talks about the history of queer people in Europe and their ties to heresy and witchcraft. Here, I was drawn to the link between queerness and spirituality:

The first shamans (or healer priests) in nature societies were women (Briffault, II: 518). The first male shamans imitated women by taking on their roles and wearing their clothing. Wherever patriarchy has overthrown matriarchy, even in nature societies, the previous religious power of women is feared as something diabolical. The priestess is turned into the witch (Briffault, II: 561). Unfortunately, Robert Briffault, whose book I have been citing so far, freaks out over homosexuality, which he dismisses as “the indulgence of unnatural vices” (Briffault, II: 533). And so he can’t imagine there could be a link between cross-dressing shamans and homosexuality. But we will see later there is such a link, and that as the priestess was turned into the witch, so the Gay male shaman was turned into the heretic (Evans, 2018, p. 16-17).

This knowledge tied into my practice in several ways, specifically regarding my piece Gammamorph. My partner and I decided to film parts of it in Cornwall on top of a hill where there was a scenery of big rocks that strangely looked like they had been arranged there. This gave me loose associations to megalithic monuments from the neolithic period like Stonehenge and Göbekli Tepe and their mystical historical significance as places of worship and spiritual practices pre-Christianity. I thought that shooting the video in this setting would make a statement about the revered role of queerness in prehistorical and indigenous societies. During the editing process of the footage, I was validated in this idea, and the character took on new meanings as I started reading Evans’ book. Maybe the act of placing my supernatural alter ego around the megaliths had tapped into this history of ‘sacred ancient queerness’ as Evans pointed to? According to him, the ‘holy’ Joan of Arc was allegedly a pagan queer person whose memory was appropriated by the Catholic church. This theory made me see the unintended but very meaningful resonance my character had with the images of the priestess, the gay shaman, and the gender non-conforming warrior. I started to see this creature as a transcendental, timeless queer figure with clairvoyant, supernatural powers.

Regarding my interest in more contemporary cultural issues, I have recently been looking at the work of Scottish artist Rachel Maclean. I was recommended her work after I worked with a green screen for Gammamorph. Rachel Maclean is known for her sharp and witty critique of contemporary culture, through her digitally rendered video work, that incorporates heavy green screen usage. I particularly found her commentary on the link between modern feminism, social media, and capitalism insightful:

Women are in a double bind of being pressured to strive for superficial beauty and youth but being made by this very same culture to feel ashamed for wanting anything other than inner happiness. How are we to navigate this complex understanding of inner and outer beauty? (Chapter Arts Centre, 2018, 23:10)

Here, Maclean is tackling the purposefully paradoxical messaging manufactured by a capitalist mass media to sell its products: “Be yourself! Love yourself!… but not like that. Do it this way! Buy this product to be prettier and happier.” This problem, however, does not only affect cis women, but also trans women/transfeminine people who are simultaneously told by popular media that we are ‘brave’ and tokenized as a badge of ‘wokeness’, while the majority of successful trans femmes in pop culture are models or have had extensive plastic surgery to look ‘passable’. As a trans person, I have ended up asking myself, “which one is it?” Maclean’s ability to expose the contradictions of society through eye-catching imagery, inspired by pop culture and fairytales is something I try to do in my own work. In the poem I wrote for Gammamorph, one stanza goes:

I am mad that you are passively benefitting

From the same system that oppresses me

You should all be ashamed of yourselves

You don’t even know your own privilege

You don’t know the harm you are causing for others

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We Want Data! by Rachel Maclean (2016).

Like Maclean, I was trying to express several uncomfortable observations about society in Gammamorph. One of them being the average cisgender heterosexual person’s accountability in a system that fundamentally works against queer people’s wellbeing. I have often felt alone and bitter when I was told that I am ‘brave’ by people who have not been forced to be brave in the same way as me. There seems to be a blindness within the general population to the ways in which their lifestyle choices, if unexamined, are actively strengthening heteronormativity and queerphobia. Human societies across the globe are ripe with double-standards when it comes to gender and sexuality. Many ‘straight’ people have secret queer tendencies but refuse to stand in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people to bear the brunt of queerphobia. Like Maclean, I wanted to call out taboo conditions in our society in a creative and captivating way through a feminist lens. Recently, this is something I have also explored through a simpler video format, where I speak directly to these contemporary social issues.

A video monologue from June 2021, where I talk about transphobia.

I am interested in learning about other gender variant people’s art practices, and therefore I went to see a show in London titled Shocked Quartz, which was a group exhibition at Ugly Duck Gallery by ten trans, nonbinary, and intersex artists. I related to many of the works’ sensitive and imaginative ways of conveying the struggle of existing in a cisheteropatriarchal society. I found common threads with my own practice in the surreal aspects of the works, which included imaginary sea creatures, demonic humans, and monstrous body parts. What I felt these pieces had in common was an acute awareness of the current crisis that wider trans visibility has brought upon the trans community. Specifically, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley’s video work was effective in its horror story about the state of black trans people’s lives. Despite the crushing subject matter it is joyful for me to witness a communal trans identity in art as well as society. I believe we are stronger together, and I would love to be a part of a similar exhibition or project in the future.

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Documentation of the artworks at the exhibition Shocked Quartz by the gender variant art collective Kinesis Collective.

One of the fundamental questions I seek to answer in my art practice and life is; where does homophobia/transphobia come from? Someone I have looked to in recent years to answer this question is artist, speaker, and writer Alok Vaid-Menon. Alok speaks about the issues of racism and transphobia and analyzes their cultural roots. With this knowledge in mind, they share a profound insight about the spiritual side of these issues: "People have been taught to fear the very things that have the potential to set them free" (We Are Man Enough, 2021, 14:20). The implication here is that freedom is inevitably uncomfortable, but at the same time deeply rewarding.

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Screenshot of Alok Vaid-Menon speaking on the podcast We Are Man Enough.

This core message is one that I try to convey in my own work. In the last year I have recorded two video monologues, that were partially inspired by Alok’s ability to speak in a captivating way that can engage people both inside and outside the queer and academic community. As part of my future art practice, I am interested in doing more public speaking and performing, which can hopefully help to share my messages in more direct ways. My hope is that I can create a safe space for likeminded people through my art, while educating the wider public on the philosophy and lived experience of transness.

A video monologue from January 2021, where I talk about moving beyond the gender binary as a trans person.



  • Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (2016) Directed by F. Terranova. [Feature film]. London, UK: Graphoui.


  • Evans, A. (2018) The Evans Symposium: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture and Moon Lady Rising. Granville, NY: White Crane Institute.


  • Haraway, D.J. (2013) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge.


  • Haraway, D.J. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham and London: Duke University Press.


  • Harari, Y.N. (2014) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. London: Vintage.




  • Muñoz, J.E. (2009) Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press.


  • Pearson, W. G. and Hollinger, V. and Gordon, J. (2008) Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction. Great Britain: Liverpool University Press.


  • Russell, L. (2020) Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto. London and New York: Verso Books.


  • Shocked Quartz (2022) [exhibition]. Ugly Duck Gallery, London, UK. April 28, 2022 – May 1, 2022.


  • Surrealism Beyond Borders (2022) [Exhibition]. Tate Modern, London, UK. February 24 – August 29, 2022.


  • Vaid-Menon, A. (2020) Beyond the Gender Binary. New York, USA: Penguin Workshop.


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