Becoming An Image

Heather Cassils (US/Canada)

Sat 13 Apr 2013

National Theatre Studio

Photo by Heather Cassils and Eric Charles, 2013

Becoming An Image is a performance designed for the camera, specifically the act of being photographed. Taking place in a blacked out room, the only elements in the space are the audience, a photographer, the performer and a block of clay weighing 2000 pounds. In the darkness, I use my skills as a boxer/ MMA fighter to unleashing an assault  where I literally beat the material, moulding the form. A “sculpting” process results on account of my blows. For the duration of this performance I am blind, as is the audience, as is the photographer. The only light source emitted comes from the flash mounted on the photographer’s camera. This burst of temporary light allows the audience to glimpse at suspended moments of the performance, much like a “live” photograph, burning this image into their retina. The act of photographing is the only way in which the performance is made visible. 

Originally commissioned  by the ONE Archives (the oldest active Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning (LGBTQ) organization in the United States.)  Becoming an Image addressed LGBTQ archives and the “Ts” and “Qs” often missing from historical records, which exist outside of the lens. BAI brings forth the idea of accountability by directly address the role between artist and photographer.  Additionally it calls into question the roles of the witness, the aggressor and documenter by building these challenges into the very act of the performance itself.”

Heather Cassils is originally from Montreal and now lives and works in in Los Angeles.  An internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist, Cassils is also founding member of the Los Angeles based performance group the Toxic Titties. 

Cassils was featured in OUT magazine’s Top 100 people to look out for (2011) and was listed by the Huffington Post as one of 50 Transgendered Icons as well as one of the 30 LGBT Artists to look out for (2012).

Supported by Canada Council of the Arts.