Vivek Shraya: Legends of the Trans

October 18, 2021 - February 6, 2022

This exhibition is best viewed after sunset until 11pm

This new photographic work, inspired by the 1994 film Legends of the Fall, continues Vivek Shraya’s queering of performance, photography, and storytelling to reflect an open-ended and ever-evolving notion of herself and the immense value of non-conforming role models. For Shraya, whose combined practices blur the arbitrary and limiting boundaries between music, literature, visual art, theatre, and film, making is a way to disrupt these hierarchies and break the rules.

Tristan Ludlow, the central character in the original film and the inspiration for Shraya’s photographs, is an unpredictable and unreliable rule breaker. For a young Shraya, just 13 when the film came out, Tristan’s flaws, his free-spirit, emotional depth, enviable long hair, and incessant lovability made a deep and lasting impression. While at first glance the filmic Tristan can be dismissed as a cis-gendered tragic hero whose toxic masculinity does only damage, Shraya’s reading shifts this character into a nuanced fluid light. The re-imagining of him through her brown trans body celebrates the gender and socially non-conforming aspects of this character that a standard reading of this film misses, making Shraya’s Tristan a more contemporary icon worthy of devotion.

 

Vivek Shraya: Legends of the Trans
Photo essay inspired by the 1994 film, Legends of the Fall
Produced in part with support from the Esker Foundation Commission Fund.

Creative direction: Vivek Shraya
Photography: Zachary Ayotte
Styling, makeup & hair: Alanna Chelmick
Set assistants: Adam Holman & Shauna McMartin

The artist would like to thank Shemeena Shraya, Trisha Yeo, Shauna McMartin, Leanne Tomanek, Tomanek Farms (and the generous horses Judy and Twin Cyty), Morgan Vanek, Jacquelyn Cardinal and Naheyawin, and Canada Council for the Arts for the support.

Music: The Ludlows, James Horner. From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Legends of the Fall, 1995

Vivek Shraya is honoured to acknowledge the Indigenous lands that shared in the stewardship of this work, including those of Treaty 6 and the Métis Nation of Alberta.

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