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 Ela Xora ,Intersex People , University of Cambridge,Gilbert and George
Artist Ela Xora Explores Signs of Intersex People At University of Cambridge - ArtLyst Article image

Artist Ela Xora Explores Signs of Intersex People At University of Cambridge

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The finale to a fascinating series of art exhibitions by artist Ela Xora entitled “Signs of Intersex People”, is due to be staged at the University of Cambridge on 24th October and was last week previewed at the Royal College of Art after the artist was invited to give a presentation there by head of fashion and Boudicca label owner Zowie Broach. The silver masked artist is also due to announce on social media the names of 2 household name ex-Cambridge alumni that have signed a new petition being launched simultaneously at the event, supported by Intersex UK and UKIA members, calling for the UK Government to launch an Intersex Equality Inquiry. Other celebrity signatories will also be announced at the exhibition including Game of Thrones stars.

“Signs of Intersex People” is an eye-opening mask and sign centric exhibition that traces the contours of connectivity between the hero to zero social status shift of intersex-bodied people in early Western culture documented in classics, contrasted against the present day legal concealment, abuse and cultural invisibility of intersex people today, using satirical sign art to generate impact and urgency. Xora’s silver masks, in particular, reveal evidence that a “grey scale” of human genders including intersex identities were in fact “traditional” in our early Western culture,  elucidating a spectrum of non-gender binary intersex figures documented in early Western human medical records and religion. Xora unmasks proof that these ancient intersex figures are little known because they have been widely institutionally forbidden and concealed from public view, particularly in museums like the Museum of classical archaeology in Cambridge, which banned ancient intersex deity sculptures from being exhibited in 1850 because their bodies were “not fit for public viewing”.

Xora’s exquisite and dazzling 999 pure silver masks, including “The castration mask of Agdistis”, “The mask of Phanes” and “The mask of Hermaphroditus” now shine light on the forgotten anthropomorphic and human intersex figures in our culture who’s mythologies mirror the modern day treatment of people born biologically intersex to this day, described previously by Xora as “a 999 emergency situation”, sentiments furiously echoed yearly by human rights charities around the world. “Signs of Intersex People” is also supported publicly by the United Nations, who have long denounced in particular the legal invisibility, non-consenting genital mutilation and forced hormonisation of intersex children as “torture”. 

“Signs of Intersex People” is the conclusion to previous Cambridge exhibitions by Xora at the Museum of classical archaeology (Unmasking ancient deities and intersex identities) and St Catharine’s College (Born That Way : Unmasking intersex people). Xora and celebrity sculptress Frances Segelman broke new ground in 2015 by exhibiting the first ever intersex deity artworks at the Museum of classical archaeology. Images of artworks from this forthcoming exhibition, have already been published in the Independent On Sunday and the BBC amongst many others, as well as being supported by many prominent art world figures, including Gilbert and George (pictured).

Xora is also exhibiting mask art and giving talks at the University of Oxford in February 2017, as part of a vanguard museums tour there called “Out In Oxford” being helmed by Beth Asbury and acclaimed Egyptologist Professor Parkinson to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. The pioneering academic event will see prestigious Oxford museums like the Ashmolean Museum open its doors to the public, inviting them to discover LGBTI figures and religious deities in Western culture and beyond during this groundbreaking series of exhibitions. The event is sure to spark controversy and debate given the recent media circus surrounding Olympic gold medal winning intersex athlete Caster Semenya and growing calls for the UK government to stop intersex human rights abuses and launch an Intersex Equality Inquiry.

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