The Alchemic suite of photographs was created in collaboration with Robin Black. In Alchemic, Cassils presents their gold-painted, muscular body as a philosophical homage to Robert Mapplethorpe’s classically beautiful Male Nudes and Statuary series. The group of photographs was made to accompany Cassils’ PISSED sculpture.
These photos are face mounted onto two inches of polished plexi which draw an aesthetic relationship between the tank of bodily fluid and the images. Formally the plexi also functions as a magnifying lens, while also referencing a scientific petri dish, pointing to the study and scrutiny of transgender bodies. Pairing the gilded body against a vat of urine also poses the questions: Whose lives are considered precious and valued and whose are deemed disposable?
“Cassils is positing their own body—painted gold for dramatic and sartorial effect— and creative practice in the same slippery authorship position which Mapplethorpe frequently occupied: the artistic switch who is both top and bottom, auteur and object, giver and receiver of gaze.”