These non-binary artists are reclaiming the gender narrative
These non-binary creatives are effectively and beautifully blurring the lines of gender through art, music, makeup and more.
Creativity is a beautiful thing. It can be cathartic, empowering or, in the case of queer people caught in a world filled with apocalyptic headlines and media misunderstanding, a lifeline. This is especially true for gender non-conforming communities, whose very existence is currently being debated by politicians across the globe. Thankfully, these artists are taking back the narrative. Through words, performance, music and makeup they are creating groundbreaking work which pays homage to queer past.
The following non-binary artists effectively and beautifully blur the lines of gender which continue to divide us.
Jamie Windust may be young, but the writer and certified style icon is already cementing their reputation as one of the most vital voices in the UK media. Frustrated by an onslaught of anti-trans rhetoric and incensed by its harrowing effects on the country’s LGBTQ+ community, they created FRUITCAKE magazine as a colorful antidote to the problem.
Packed full of queer artists, performers, writers and poets, Windust describes the magazine as “a curation of queer excellence which promotes individual journeys and celebrations through printed media.”
It’s beautiful, it’s limited-edition and, most importantly, it’s an opportunity for talented LGBTQ+ creators to tell their stories without being heavily edited or censored. FRUITCAKE is more than just a magazine; it’s a radical reclamation of queerness.
In the video for ‘Is’phukphuku’, a Zulu word which loosely translates to ‘idiot’, Johannesburg-based Mx Blouse struts around takeaways, shops and car parks in a series of head-turning outfits as onlookers gaze on.
“I consider myself a late bloomer,” they say of leaving their job at 27 to pursue music, “but I feel there’s never been a better time for me to do this. I feel a sense of conviction in who I am; owning my identity as a non-binary, queer person gives me a sense of being alive.”
This strength resonates through their acclaimed debut EP ‘Believe The Bloom’, whose lyrics about gendered violence and queer existence switch from Zulu to English within milliseconds. More music is on the horizon, and Blouse say they couldn’t be happier with their choice to release music after fully embracing their identity:
“I think I would never have been able to make music I would be proud of, because I wouldn’t be able to fully express myself, my feelings, my fears, my aspirations and my identity in the context of a world that doesn’t really see me.”
But now Mx Blouse has a stage, and 2019 looks set to see it expand globally.
ZAH is multitalented, multifaceted and endlessly ambitious. Not only do they share inventive, intricate beauty looks with an Instagram audience of more than 25,000 followers, the Brooklyn-based artist also performs melodic, high-octane electronica under the moniker Nightspace and host parties as part of UN, a global network of QTPOC (queer/trans people of color) which they co-founded.
ZAH’s ethereal looks not only blur the lines of gender, but they also call into question what it means to even look human. Lips are obscured and redrawn into arresting new shapes; tiny, painted eyes become decorations dotted around the face; horns, veils and pearl embellishments are all worked into mesmerizing works of art which transform skin into a canvas. They even have a fashion line in the works.
Victoria Sin is deep in preparation for an upcoming show at London’s prestigious Sotheby’s gallery and auction house. This should come as no surprise since Sin has had a spectacular year spanning several exhibitions. Sin recently had a brief US tour alongside talented DJ and producer Shy One where they performed a series of works as Yaeji’s opening act.
A fusion of drag, performance art and social commentary, Sin’s work explores the idea of performing identity and feminine labor more specifically. Their performances are slow, ritualistic and sometimes centered around everyday tasks, but more recently they have been fascinated by science fiction and how it can be used to visually represent marginalized narratives.
Their drag is comprised of perfectly-teased platinum curls, an oversized breastplate and iridescent gowns. Sin embodies hyper-femininity and slicks it off with a makeup wipe to show that we all perform gender in our own way. Not to mention, they also frequently use their platform to call out bullshit misogyny, racism and transphobia in the LGBTQ nightlife scene. What more could you ask for?
With a handful of exceptions, the electronic music industry largely ignores women and queer artists, especially if they also happen to be people of color. Not only is this gender bias, but it’s also erasure. Some of the most impressive artists in history have created vital dance music movements like Chicago House. Similarly, the New York ballroom scene inspired replicas worldwide which still thrive today.
Last year, a group of creatives compiled an expansive database of talent. One of the most impressive names on that list is Brooklyn-based QUEST?ONMARC.
They are relatively enigmatic online and rarely shows their face, but they’ve amassed an impressive Soundcloud filled with remixes and original bangers with relentless BPMs. Rapid-fire beats bounce underneath squelchy synths on ‘XTCUNT’, whereas the extended ‘TO FREEDOM’ set hilariously opens with Nicki Minaj’s endlessly-memed words: “TO FREEDOM!”
QUEST?ONMARC also pay homage to the queer icons that paved the way for them to thrive as a non-binary artist, sprinkling ballroom soundbites over hard, industrial beats which are soundtracking the lives of young queer people worldwide.