The Photobook Imagining Our Gender-Fluid Future

A new book by artists Sylwana Zybura and Tomas C. Toth challenges convention through fantastical portraits and hybrid forms that represent a prototype for a new subversive reality.

In her landmark essay “A Cyborg Manifesto” Donna Haraway describes the cyborg as “resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and perversity. It is oppositional, utopian, and completely without innocence”. Her definition is eerily fitting for the complex and fantastical figures depicted in “Landscapes Between Eternities” — a forthcoming book by artist collective CROSSLUCID. 

The result of a two-year process, this is an art photography book like no other. Presented in a shiny soft wallet with a mix of semi-matte and gloss paper, “Landscapes Between Eternities” is an original and enticing take on imagining new identities and forms. The surrealistic images are equally gorgeous and strange: bodies and faces are adorned in crystals, unctuous liquids, unreal paint, plastics and objects that are both familiar and unfamiliar. Indeed, this book exists in the mysterious realm between the knowable and unknowable, suggesting a near-future that is more fluid and mesmerising than our fixed and conventional present.

Accompanying the publication of the book, CROSSLUCID (artists Sylwana Zybura and Tomas C. Toth) presented an interdisciplinary exhibition of performance and installation at Import Projects in Berlin. Choreographed by Tarren Johnson with contemporary dancer Stephan Quinci against an otherworldly soundscape composed by Lyra Pramuk (edited and arranged by Johnson), the durational performance represented many of the ideas in the book. In multi-limbed body suits, the dancers shuffled along the floor and against the wall in jittery but elegant movements that illustrated a sort of breaking-free. This performance represented a cutting loose from the conservative shackles of binary identities. 

Consisting of sixty-nine portraits and twenty-eight still lives of obscure oddities and foreign amalgamations of things and textures,  “Landscapes Between Eternities” also includes a short text by curator Simona Squadrito. In it she writes, “The concept of the self is no longer submitted to a fixed category, it is displayed as fluid and in perpetual mutation”. This is the book’s overarching theme: a futuristic dream of formlessness and multiplicity where normalised ideals of gender, race and beauty — as Squadrito points out — are overcome.

In this subversive book where intersex, transitional and non-binary bodies are presented alongside alien assemblages and fetishistic accessories that allude to a laboratory-like place of manufacture, it’s impossible not to think of Haraway’s manifesto for moving beyond the limitations of gender and identity as we commonly know them,“The utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender”. “Landscapes Between Eternities” is an effort to realise just that.

“Landscapes Between Eternities” by CROSSLUCID is available to pre-order here. 

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