Union Gallery

Image of the Gallery

project room

The Order of Things

multi-media documentary installation (43 minutes)

June 7 - September 9, 2016 | Reception: Friday June 3, 2016, 5-7pm

Judy Ruzylo, still from The Order of Things, multi-media documentary installation, 2013

Gender plays a central role in the creation of social identity. It is fundamental to how we see ourselves, and how we order the world around us. We learn to read and decode gender from a very young age. Conventional wisdom holds that sex, as designated at birth, determines gender. But in fact gender is a construct. It is learned, idealized and reinvented.

The transgender exist outside the gender duality of man and woman. The changes they undergo emphasize how gender is, in fact, a continuum. Having moved along this continuum, the transgender are in a paradoxically privileged position to understand things about the gendered world that most do not.

The multi-media documentary installation, The Order of Things, explores the relations between gender, identity and society. Transgender individuals from a range of ages, backgrounds and circumstances share their observations of and lived experience in our gendered world. Inspired by Levinas’ claim that “the face presents itself and demands justice”, these individuals turn to face the audience only when the viewer is within proximity of the screen. This rudimentary interaction reframes the image as an encounter that challenges one to contemplate the notion that the ways in which we do not understand things are as important as the ways in which we understand them. That perhaps, there exists some order beyond the binary.

The piece is projected onto the wall of the gallery. Using a depth sensor or motion detector, the piece is activated by the presence of a viewer: a head will turn and the face will address the viewer. The individual face turns back when the individual has finished speaking. When the space empties of viewers, the piece will rest. When reactivated, the narrative(s) will recommence where they left off.

Judy Ruzylo has a peripatetic art education and an extensive background as an associate producer and researcher in documentary film. In her artistic practice, she is usually drawn to the human: the complexities of form, condition and individuality.