Marla Bendini (Singapore)

The exhibition has been cancelled.

Biography of Artist

The Fringe Gallery exhibition Tracks by artist Marla Bendini (Singapore) at the upcoming M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2016: Art & the Animal has been cancelled. The work is currently still in development and as such, could not meet the licensing deadline.

The Festival hopes that Marla’s work can be presented some other time in the near future. We would like to extend our deepest apologies for any inconvenience caused to the public and we hope that you will join us for the many other amazing Fringe events from 13 to 24 January 2016.

Tracks is a cartographic representation of Singapore, formed using portraits of Marla Bendini in public spaces. These transgressive forms of self-representations not only chronicle the physical changes of gender transitioning, but also her artistic strategies in queer vs. mainstream negotiations within the country's public sphere. The photo archive incorporates guerrilla acts made only for personal documentation, keeping in mind legal and social implications to protect the artist's personal safety.

When digitally collaged with Google Street View in the closest corresponding year, these evidences become a series of tableaux that blurs the lines between fact/fiction, reality/virtual, past/present, telling stories of the artist's tenacity in her socio-political resistance but also reveals changes in her private life with family and friends since 2007.

Mentored by Jason Wee (Grey Projects), Marla's installation weaves these tableaux into a visualisation of ownership through her tracks - a journey of self-discovery and rebirth, a 'tranimal' born out of alienation between the "us" and the "other".

This work is a development of Marla Bendini's work as The Butter Factory's Head-Freak and her 2014 solo exhibition I'm Nervous, presented by Grey Projects and organised in conjunction with the 10th edition of IndigNation, Singapore's longest running LGBT festival.

"Marla Bendini" was created in 2007 as an amalgamation between art and life, to explore multiple liminal identities and fluidity in perspectives. She seeks to both engage and disarm audiences and to bridge the present to what she envisions to be an inevitable trans/post-human condition.

Sean says:

"Marla is easily the most undomesticated animal in the Singapore arts terrain, wilder than any animal I have met. Not usually easy to follow or pin down, here Marla emerges from the shadows inviting you to follow in her tracks and share in her most important work to date."

Relationship to Art and the Animal

The term 'tranimal' was coined by Jer Ber Jones in the mid-2000s, as a drag and performance art movement to create animalistic and postmodern interpretations of the 'drag queen'. The intention is not to look particularly animalistic but rather to create dynamic looks and characters, to resist looking 'pretty' or to 'pass' as a female.

These surreal looks - created through found objects, 'ugly' makeup and minimal shopping — emphasised the ugliness of mainstream culture but in the process, creates an aesthetic that is also somewhat beautiful and mesmerising.

Tracks builds on Marla Bendini's work as The Butter Factory's Head Freak in 2014, introducing new elements of fun, comic and narratives into her transgressive forms of self-representation. These new 'tranimals' take on animalistic forms that mainstream audiences could identify with, but which also facilitated their inclusion into the queer politics and culture that inform Marla's body of work.

These club performances spill out into public spaces, especially during the National Library Board's book-pulping controversy, which gave rise to a 'Singapore Girl' kebaya-wearing Penguin spotted islandwide by Singaporeans. This work explores how the mainstream regards queer identities and animals as the 'other', negotiations with and rebuttals against censorship and how the symbiosis might connect us again.