When I first met trans performance artist Jaimes Mayhew, he ran an artist workshop on creating utopia— an unintentional (or uncredited) material and conceptual introduction to José Esteban Muñoz’s concept of queer utopias. Drawing on philosopher Ernst Bloch’s “concrete utopia,” Muñoz suggests a utopia that is based not in optimism but rather in “educated hope”: “The utopian function is enacted by a certain surplus in the work that promises futurity, something that is not quite there.” Muñoz rejects the negative ontology that surrounds queerness and instead invokes queerness as a community, as hope, as utopia. Mayhew similarly maps utopia as a process and a product— as an artwork and a methodology to discuss trans bodies, experience, and ontology. This article explores ontologies of trans performance through the body— and body of work— of trans artist Jaimes Mayhew. Through a material culture and performance studies approach, this article uses Mayhew’s work to illustrate a material trans performance ontology. Trans ontology is not simply a queering or multiplicity; instead, it invokes with its prefix so much more: transformation, transmutation, transposition, translation, and so on. It considers how (t)his body moves in, out, and through (read: trans) a queering of the body toward a utopic material trans ontology.


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pp. 130-146
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