Transgender and Non-binary artists to celebrate.

Offering our overdue attention.

We’ve discussed artists from all corners of the globe, we’ve featured galleries we love, artists rising in recognition, and ranking, and we’ve highlighted the raging gender inequalities in the art world.

But there is one particularly fundamental group, who feels the bite of inequality more than most, that we have not yet explored and honoured. These artists embody the role of artist as observer, critic, educator and activist. They are Transgender and Non-binary and their works are as moving, powerful and diverse as they are. It’s not surprising that the work of gender diverse artists is so often activist-driven, given their right to exist is still constantly threatened, in many countries forbidden and in some punishable by death.

Even in supposedly progressive Western countries, the rights of LGBTQIA+ communities are still constantly challenged. Laws are proposed constantly that aim to undermine the hard-fought rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, and are still implemented in countries where we have the highest proportion of Non-binary and Transgender artists listed. (Countries that are supposed to be fair and safe.)

To move towards equal rights everywhere, we must continue to highlight and celebrate the wide and vastly talented LGBTQIA+ community, so today let us look more closely at a few Non-binary and Transgender artists in our database. (At the moment these lists are hard to find within our database, so in the next month we will implement them in our “Resources and Facts” lists at the bottom of our home page.)

Let us now colour your inbox with the works of:

Cassils (b.1975)
Global ranking: 6,897, Canada Ranking: 95

Cassils, Cuts: A traditional Sculpture, 2011 – 2013, a six month durational performance of disciplined body sculpting.

Cassils explore’s “LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and survival” using live performance, film, sound, sculpture and photography. In CUTS: A TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE (2011-2013) Cassils transforms their body over 6 months using bodybuilding and nutrition into a “ traditionally masculine muscular form”, reinterpreting Eleanor Antin’s 1972 Carving: A Traditional Sculpture. The work is astounding, and exemplifies how Cassils use of their body is always at the centre of their work.

Zanele Muholi (b. 1972)
Globally ranked: 120, South Africa: 3

Zanele Muholi, Phila I, Parktown, from Somnyama Ngonyama, 2016, © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of the artist

Muholi is a photographer and a visual activist who explores Black LGBTQIA+ lives in South Africa. “Their photography raises awareness of injustices and aims to educate, while creating positive visual histories for under and mis-represented communities.” Muholi’s portraits are utterly bewitching, and by featuring individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community and capturing them with love, they empower both the individual and their audience. Also of note is their powerful self portrait series, Somnyama Ngonyama (2012- ongoing), which utilises found objects, plays with the power of the gaze, and employs an increased contrast to darken their skin.

Martine Gutierrez (b. 1989)
Globally ranked: 1,789

Martine Gutierrez, Line Up 6, 2014, Archival inkjet print on Arches Baryta mounted on sintra 43 1/4 × 27 1/4 in 109.9 × 69.2 cm

The visual and performance artist Martine Gutierrez investigates both personal and collective identity. Gutierrez states it better than we could when she says; “Society perpetuates rigid constructs—fabricated dichotomies like ‘male’ vs. ‘female’, ‘gay’ vs. ‘straight’, ‘minority’ vs. ‘white’, ‘reality’ vs. ‘fantasy’, ‘dominate’ vs. ‘submissive’, etc.,” “But our interpretation of these constructs is subjective and not immutable. Reality, like gender, is ambiguous because it exists fluidly.”

We’re moved by her words and particularly mesmerised by her stunning photographic series, Line Ups (2014), which feature the artist blending seamlessly between a collection of perfectly posed and dressed mannequins.

Jonathan Lyndon-Chase (b.1989)
Globally ranked 6,250, United States: 1,164

Jonathan Lyndon-Chase, Two Men on Bed, 2015, acrylic on panel, 5 by 7 ft

Lyndon-Chase creates vivid gestural paintings that explore Black queer identity with an often deep intimacy. “Fluidity is important in the pursuit of freedom.” Chase’s short career has skyrocketed with impressive speed. We’re not surprised though -the work is beautiful- take a look at Two Men on Bed (2015).

Sabian Baumann (b.1962)
5,166 Globally, Switzerland: 164

Sabian Baumann, Näher beim Mond, 2020, 157×117 cm

Baumann uses figurative drawing, sculpture, installation and video to explore bodies, identity and cultural values. Her fascinatinly detailed dreamlike often tragi-comic drawings are so worth exploring; her recent work Näher beim Mond, (2020) seems to capture perfectly the blending of the idealised feminine and masculine in one.

James Nares (b.1953)
Globally: 4492, United Kingdom: 291

James Nares, It’s Raining in Naples, 2003, oil on linen, 47 1/2 x 81 inches, 120.7 x 205.7 cm

Last but not least, we wanted to share James Nares with you, who’s multi-media practice involves film, music, painting, photography and performance. After a five decade career identifying as a man, James now identifies as a woman. It takes guts to be who you truly are at any age, and it goes to show that accepting, claiming or simply understanding who that is can take a lifetime.

These artists have all worked towards claiming space, recognition, empathy and solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ community and are just a handful of the incredible Non-binary and Transgender artists that we have listed on our database. We encourage you to explore our lists and find new inspiration in diverse spaces. 

Let’s keep up the good fight, and make history happen,

The Artfacts Team

Headerimage created by Piotr Pietrus