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Imma: Trans, Okay, Challenge, Performance, Audience


Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
27 May 2016

I used MA Fine Art as a way to question performance – where it sits and what its capabilities are – what the recipe for live performance is, opposed to digital performance or performing photography
Before that BA Fine Art, Parsons
Before that, I was a professional ballet dancer


It’s a really important performance for me

I’m going through all this stuff so recently and to be just be able to outwardly and openly speak about it in a public space brings it to me differently rather than just talking to friends or at home or in the pub

I’m hoping that it crosses someone’s thought patterns and that they’re thinking

‘Wow, that is something’ or ‘I should think about that, I’m partaking in something that’s not so great’ or ‘I could be doing something more’

If I can do that, it’s great

The whole trans thing takes a lot of courage, a lot of constant reminding of how much energy it takes to make everything okay – whatever okay means


Okay for me is just being able to be in the world unjudged and to not judge – it’s a two-way street

We’ve been trained to judge when things don’t quite meet the standards which we’re used to and that’s something I’m trying to eliminate from my subconscious

What is good enough and what does that mean and who’s to say what is good enough?

Sometimes it’s just different and coming to terms with what that difference is and knowing that it’s offering something other than what you’re used to – that’s something that’s really hard to grapple with – people say:

No. Don’t like it. That’s weird. I’m not into it. Change it.’


Talking about things like [the personal experience of trans-gender issues] in a public space can seem quite confrontational when really it’s something that’s quite normal that we should all be thinking about

I’m saying ‘this is me and you can respond and talk back to me

Somehow with performance we’ve come to this space where we analyse and watch and we don’t dare cross the line, but I’m inviting you to cross that line and to really get there and that’s why I’m performing for an hour so that wall deteriorates and by the end of it you can come up to me


It’s part improvised, part rehearsed – it’s half and half – the plastic sheet is my suffocation mechanism and then the topics that I address are constant so Judith Butler is a big thing in it and talking about objectification and the gaze are all pretty concrete, but how I fill in those blanks is quite improvisational

I’m using my everyday life to keep it fresh and keep it moving – I try not to repeat – movement-wise, it’s all responsive with the moment and the mood


I’m more looking to the audience for the conversational part of it and by that I don’t even mean a response – a response would be great – it’s through the gaze that the audience is there with you and they’re ready to take on more information and you can see when they’re ready to say ‘I’m here, what else are you going to say?’ or it’s like ‘This is a lot, I’m going to go out the door because I don’t want to deal with this’

It’s challenging the space and it’s up to you as a viewer to respond:

‘I’m going to rupture the space and go into it and be in the madness or I’m going to refrain from that and let it just stay on the periphery of who I am so I can walk away cleanly without having to, you know, wash my hands

That’s always the question of performance I think

Imma is performing continuum in the Lethaby Gallery every day until Sunday at 1pm