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Lecture Performance: Sophie Sexon: The In_Visibility of the Non-Binary Body in Drag Performance and Medieval Visual Art

When Nov 13, 2019
from 06:15 to 07:15
Where Phil I, GCSC, R.001
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 027
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This lecture performance is part of the conference Renegotiating Minoritarian In_Visibilities. For questions or registration please send a mail to .


This paper will be part-performance and part-paper which addresses the morphology of the non-binary body in visual culture. It addresses the question of how the non-binary body can be staged, recognized, and represented without an overt bodily morphology or symbolism to help identify non-binary bodies in visual art. To tackle this, I present a performance enacted as my drag king persona, Boris Gay. The performer appears initially as a female burlesque striptease performer, but then strips apart the elements of the assumed female gender using dress codes and gendered accessories until the body being seen is presented and sexless and genderless. From this moment of representative non-binary morphology, I use accessories and clothing to transform into the male body of my drag king persona Boris Gay who will deliver the academic paper.

I will discuss non-binary performance work currently being created in the UK and how this presents and identifies the non-binary body. I will also discuss my PhD thesis regarding how Christ’s body can be perceived as non-binary in medieval visual art. I tie the medieval to the modern to show that non-binary bodies have been present in visual art across history, even though they may have been considered invisible to the untrained eye. My project uses queer theoretical perspectives to address how the invisible and unwritten parts of history can be made apparent through queer readings.

Using Karma Lochrie’s work on secrecy and queer sexuality in the Middle Ages (see Covert Operations, 1999) this paper addresses the possibility of finding non-binary history through the invisible morphology of the non-binary body in a range of different artistic mediums. I will discuss how invisibility can be structured as an advantage in visual coding, as discrete representations of gender ambiguity can be made visible through queer perspectives. We can find non-binary bodies both overtly and covertly represented in visual art across history through the visible bodies of gender ambiguous figures, such as genderqueer saints in medieval art (such as Saint Pelagiaand Saint Wilgefortis) and in contemporary artworks, such as that of Pierre et Gilles, Jam Montoya, and Bill Burch. This paper, therefore, takes a multi-format and interdisciplinary approach to show how the invisible non-binary body can be brought to visibility across historical readings.


Feel free to join us for the evening reception afterwards at 7:15 pm.


// Sophie Sexon is a PhD researcher and drag king from Scotland. In recent years they have performed across the UK, in Serbia and in North Macedonia. They have recently contributed academic articles regarding the non-binary identity to the London Science Museum journal, and a volume due to being published by Amsterdam University Press on Trans and Genderqueer Saints in Medieval Hagiography


Plakat Sexon

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