Inhabiting a Poetics of Confusion

This thesis develops a methodology of research and writing with which to approach and produce trans aesthetics, creatively and critically revisiting selected artworks to formulate an aesthetics which sees transness as a distinctly non-sensical project. Transition’s undoing of normative epistemology and phenomenology (its unmaking and remaking of sense and senses) is located in the language and experience of confusion, a plastic blankness which brings transness into contact with struggles at the heart of the creative process. The artist’s uncertainty, the old charge of artwork as simple mimesis, reemerges in the self- and world-making of transition, as well as in wider understandings of transness, which often conceive of a fundamental deception at its heart. This thesis seeks to productively use the connection between making art and making gender to engage with and transform these logics, exploring how the ‘confusion’ experienced in the face of the trans subject can be activated as/alongside the ‘confusion’ of being trans, producing unsettling feelings in the body and mind of its reader.

She Studies But She Does Not Learn, Whorrall-Campbell, 2022, image taken by artist


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