Chris E. Vargas on Trans Criticism, Material Culture, and ‘Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects’
April 18th, 5:15pm – 7:00pm
Krieger Hall 205, Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus (3400 N. Charles St.)
Chris E. Vargas is a filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist, and curator currently based in Bellingham, WA. His work uses a broad array of forms, drawn from experimental video, performance, and comedic practices, in order to explore the ways that queer and trans people develop forms of life in relation to their historical and institutional contexts, and the popular culture which mediates such environments. He is Associate Professor in the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Washington University, and holds an MFA from the department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. He has received numerous awards, including a 2016 Creative Capital award and a 2020 John S. Guggenheim fellowship. Vargas is the founder, and performs as executive director, of MOTHA, the Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art—a parasitic curatorial project without a permanent home, which challenges “audiences to think critically about what a visual history of transgender life could and should look like, and if it’s even possible to compile a comprehensive history of an identity category for which the language is fairly new, sometimes contested, and still rapidly evolving.” Vargas and MOTHA have exhibited widely, including at The New Museum, the Oakland Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the University of Victoria Legacy Art Galleries, and the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC Library. Information on of Vargas’ video work can be found on his website, including his and Eric A. Stanley’s 2013 feature film, Criminal Queers, which “visualizes a radical trans/queer struggle against the prison industrial complex and toward a world without walls.
Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects, edited by David Evans Frantz, Christina Linden, and Chris E. Vargas, and published by Hirmer in 2024, is a panoramic experiment in anti-patriarchal attention to the multiform material legacies of trans culture and activism. It gathers contributions from critics, artists, activists, and writers like Morgan M. Page, Andrea Jenkins, Sandy Stone, Miss Major, Amos Mac, Jeanne Vaccaro, Annalee Newitz, McKenzie Wark, Dean Spade, Kate Bornstein, Martine Gutierrez, Greta LaFleur, Abram J. Lewis, Vaginal Davis, Zackary Drucker, Jayne County, C. Riley Snorton, Leah DeVun, David J. Getsy, Michelle Teea, and many many more. The book is book is copublished by the Museum of Trans Hirstory & Art (MOTHA), and builds off of a series of exhibitions which detourned the Smithsonian’s book American History in 101 Objects.
Please share this information and the attached poster with anyone you think might be interested, and consult the Tabb Center website for other details about our programing. We are grateful for the support of the Johns Hopkins Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute, for additional support.
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