Thursday 4 August 2016
A Fine Art student at the University of Northampton has won a prestigious prize for his artwork, which aims to create a better understanding of gender transition and the boundaries people have to cross to seek a different self.
Dylan Fox, 24 from Northampton, has just completed his final year of the BA (Hons) Fine Art course and was awarded the Cass Art Prize for best in show at the 2016 Free Range Graduate Exhibition, which took place in July at the Old Truman Brewery in London.
His piece, entitled Border Control, was inspired by the border control gates at Miami International Airport, which marked his entry into the US for surgery earlier in the year and highlights the idea of authorisation and control within the NHS trans-healthcare system in the UK.
The piece requires each potential viewer to fill out a doctored border control card and queue for an indefinite amount of time in order to move forward. The cards are designed to encourage conversation around transgender issues, with Gender Recognition Act of 2004 replacing the official title of the Immigration Act of 1971. When reaching the front of the queue, a border security officer will either approve or decline their entry. If they are declined, they have to start the whole process again, but even the successful entrants are met with disappointment when they realise there is nothing beyond the border and their time spent waiting has been for nothing.
Dylan explains: “Less people are denied access than granted, meaning the voided cards will have a higher value, which poses an interesting dilemma between wanting to gain access and also wanting to be denied. This piece has been developed to make each participant wait for some time before being told what the next step of their experience will be, without them having any direct control over that experience. Participants will receive a unique experience that will put them in a privileged position over everyone else, but ultimately the sense of disappointment after participating in this event is key to understanding some of my own experiences during transition.”
“My work had already been displayed as part of the University’s Degree Show and I then had the opportunity to exhibit at the Free Range Graduate Exhibition in London alongside students from around fifteen other universities. I was both excited and proud to be awarded the Cass Art Prize for the best in show at Free Range.”