Diary Forms: Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry is an installation consisting of three main parts: a photo wall primarily detailing damage done to the skin of my chest from the use of trans tape (which I am unfortunately allergic to); a clothesline made of leftover yarn which holds up various objects relating to my experience of my gender and gender presentation; and a pile of gendered/non-gendered clothing items that appear to have shed from the clothesline itself or are perhaps rising up onto the clothesline depending on the viewer’s interpretation. The installation is lit from the floor with two clamp lights which are embedded in the laundry pile.

From the beginning of this class, I’ve noticed that my inclinations are towards creating objects that evoke visceral discomfort from their audiences. I wanted to make something that embodied the discomfort I experience as a trans person on a daily basis, and I wanted the object to draw the viewer into that feeling. 

The “diary form” part of this project began early in the semester, as I realized that I wanted to document my daily experience wearing trans tape and the damage that it was doing to my body. I began taking pictures of my chest every time I went through the removal process, and from there I got the idea to replicate those images and make them very difficult to avoid. I then intervened with the printed images by ripping up the printer paper (which I chose to use instead of actual photo paper in order to create a more personal and authentic feeling) and pasting it to the wall alongside craft paper and various newspaper ads for meat. Additionally, I included parts of previous projects for the class and letters I had written to the tooth fairy as a young child. I used pushpins to put everything on the wall, aiming for a somewhat haphazard and dangerous effect. While I was taking photos of my chest, I was also collecting the strips of trans tape that came off of my body, which I then strung up on my “clothesline” along with various materials that came from my life (such as empty pill bottles and prescription refill notices), and items from friends. The bottom part of the installation was the last piece that I finished, as I realized in critiques that the project felt unfinished. I wanted to include clothes that I have not worn for many years (sports bra, fishnets, dresses, and nightgowns) alongside clothes that I now wear which help alleviate my dysphoria (binders, polo shirts, etc.). Finally, in critiques, we discovered that the best way to light to work was from the bottom, to add to the intensity of the display.

This project is deeply personal to me, as it is an outward exploration of gendered experiences in my life. The inclusion of materials from friends is perhaps the most important part of the project, as I have found over my time in college that gender is a shared experience, and some of the most joyous moments of gender euphoria have come in the presence of the people I care most about. That is why I also chose to include my materials list within the project itself, to give credit to the people who contributed and to emphasize their importance in my life and experiences.

Author: Eddie Yoffee