Viscose Journal Issue 4: Trans
This special issue of Viscose critically explores the numerous relationships between transness and fashion. This issue sets out to ask two ambivalent questions: what is a fashion theory of transness, and what might a trans theory of fashion be? Co-edited with scholars Alex Esculapio and Che Gossett, Viscose 04 productively confronts fashion studies with trans aesthetics and trans studies, and attempts to excavate the largely invisible archives of trans history that form the underside of fashion itself. The issue features new contributions by a global cast of trans and queer writers, artists, and creatives, responding to the porous notion of “trans cultural production” as a genre full of potentiality. The issue features a wealth of archival and contemporary moments of trans fashion production spanning 50 years. The cover, designed by NYC-based designer and bookmaker Rissa Hochberger, celebrates histories of independent queer publishing, and doubles as a detachable poster. The inspiration of the issue was the ambitious retrospective of German artist Lorenza Böttner at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in 2022. Böttner, a trans artist and performer who had both arms amputated as a child, celebrated the edges of gender and bodily expression through her multifaceted practice, often through idioms of costume and style.
Fashion is no new context to trans lives and trans expression; inversely, transness continues to recur as a theme in fashion, with or without the participation of trans people. Transgender-ing maintains a specificity in the framework of fashion, a system that in many ways has registered, maintained and constructed our understanding of gender throughout modern history. We’re interested in entertaining how a history of fashion is informed by trans cultural production and trans aesthetics more widely, and in beginning the work to write such genealogies from a variety of philosophical, social, and political perspectives.
As a porous notion, “trans cultural production” can not only entail the many ways in which trans people have contributed to the fashion industries, but also include how transness has been central in producing fashion as a phenomenon of modern society. In other words, how style and dress constitute forms of trans world-making in their own right. By approaching ‘trans-’ not as a noun but as a verb, we hope to develop speculative and historical accounts of a trans sensibility as it relates to, participates in, and animates fashion as a phenomenon—from constructing to deconstructing fashioned bodies; from consuming images to becoming image; from wearing clothes to producing clothes. Rather than turning transness into an abstract concept, we hope to productively use it as a critical perspective and a positionality for knowledge production.
We would like to thank all the contributors for gathering around this very special project, which was made possible thanks to the close collaboration and trust of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York City. Viscose is published in partnership with International Fashion Research Library and Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo, Norway. With support from Danish Arts Foundation and Nordic Culture Fund.
Dimensions: 245 x 330 mm