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Hard Femme Soft Butch 
Two-channel HD video with sound (60:00 min)
2016


 

Viewers watch two channels of video for 60 minutes as a heart and the text "Femme" are tattooed on the artist's upper thigh. The audio accompanying this work is a recording of Flawless Sabrina reading the artist's tarot cards during a visit with her in New York, Summer 2016.

For over three years LaFleur has obsessively researched the unsung feminist hero, Claude Cahun. In 1928 Cahun painted a heart on her upper thigh and inscribed the words "I am in training, don't kiss me"across her chest. Balancing two weights in her lap, she preened for the camera in a manner that accentuated signs of hyper-femininity: paste-on heart shaped nipples, painted-on lips, and lacquered-down spit curls.

In training for what, she prompts us to ask. Training to become a woman...or to un-become one?

For Hard Femme Soft Butch the artist approaches the question of "in training" from a militaristic, activist and feminist perspective to investigate power, queer lineage and sexual identity. Accompanying the video, is a 3D neon sculpture of the artist's heart shaped ruby red prescription glasses, pulsing to the voice of another queer ancestor, Flawless Sabrina.

Flawless Sabrina began her career in the 1950's and 60's as a radical business woman and renegade, operating a national drag beauty pageant aptly named The Nationals. Her counter-cultural beauty queen enterprise spanned a decade, and ended by the making of an iconic documentary called The Queen that debuted in 1968. Flawless Sabrina's life;me encouragement of queer community is a subversive reaction to American society. To her countless children, the artists and queers who she admires, Sabrina reiterates the importance of an individual's empowerment, always encouraging people to follow their heart, sit in the driver's seat, and allow life's mysteries to unveil naturally.

Filmed in Dallas, TX with tattoo artist Char McGaughy and Gold Dust Tattoos.