Date 1 February 2021 Words Dilohana Lekamge Imagery Stills from Aliyah Winter’s film Rage, 2020
Aliyah Winter is a multimedia artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Through her multifaceted practice she emphasises her particular experience of gender, while tackling the issues the queer community faces in a world that is largely separated into binaries.
Winter channels different characters that are both historical and self-manifested. Her performance-based videos encapsulate her talent for capturing and conveying complicated emotions and histories that are often buried in our common consciousness, as a largely heteronormative-leaning society.
Both inside and outside of her work, Winter is consistently grappling with the evolution and fluidity of language and its many uses and failures. She contemplates the co-opting of language by anti-trans groups, who create vocabulary to communicate their propaganda. Simultaneously, she documents the evolution of queer terminology in the English language. Contemplating how to refer to a historical figure whose gender identity was ill-defined in the time that they were alive and also how language is currently used to explain the complexities of gender and gender politics.
Her current research is centred around a category of porn called Sissy Hypno, which uses audiovisual effects that refer to hypnosis and depicts forced feminisation of people who are described as “sissies” within the video’s narrative. In examining this bracket of pornography, Winter considers the transmisogynistic overtones that reproduce harmful stereotypes that have been known to manifest in violence towards transfeminine people.
The fruits of this research was shown in an exhibition titled HYPNO MATRIX, at Parasite, a new queer-focused and led exhibition space on Karangahape Road, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. Curated by gallery founder Dan Sanders, the exhibition was created with a queer audience in mind which, for Winter, allows her to address the transphobia that is rife within the queer community.
Through the variety of visual forms, Winter continuously asks the audience to consider and reconsider the complexities of gender and the structures that encourage adherence to gendered and sexual norms. She envisions a space where gender determination is such that cis and trans binaries fall apart and reality would be at one’s own discretion.