In Tiamat Legion Medusa (2022, 26 minutes), the artist talks about its childhood experiences of abandonment and assault, which led to the desire to change species. “I don’t want to die looking like a human being when I leave this world,” Medusa says, describing its physical metamorphosis as a “protest at humanity.” As it recounts its life story and details its transitions, the video is intercut with images of its drawings and old family photographs, foregrounding Medusa’s immaterial voice. Nevertheless, its concept of self remains resolutely embodied.
Lending its title to the exhibition, When I Leave This World (2022, 10 minutes) records one of Medusa’s suspension performances, set to an original soundtrack by DJ and sound artist ELO. Two assistants in black rubber gloves carefully pierce its chest, stomach, and legs with hooks, its shimmering skin occasionally twitching in expectation. Ropes are threaded through the hooks and pulled taut, lifting the horizontal body. Slowly rotating in space, Medusa is joined by Motta in Shibari rope bondage, hanging upright with arms outstretched as if on a crucifix. Two traditions of suspension are dramatically juxtaposed in a tableau of transgressive geometry.
This artistic collaboration continues Motta’s investigations into queer counter-histories, uncovering and visualizing marginalized narratives that resist heteronormative hegemony. Yet it also moves beyond the archival past to embrace a potential posthuman future. If political discourse dehumanizes those the State would imprison, conquer, or kill, then the recognition and valuation of difference has long been understood as a process of humanization. Medusa’s monstrous metamorphosis rejects these terms, pushing alterity beyond the assumption of common humanity.
Carlos Motta (b. 1978, Bogotá) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice documents the social conditions and political struggles of sexual, gender, and ethnic minority communities, challenging normative discourses through visibility and self-representation. His upcoming solo exhibitions include the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2022) and Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MAMBO) (2023). He participated in the 11th Berlin Biennale (2020) and Art of the Real, Film at Lincoln Center (2021). His work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Guggenheim Museum. Motta won the PinchukArtCentre’s Future Generation Art Prize (2014) and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008). He is an associate professor of Interdisciplinary Practice, Fine Arts, at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn.
Tiamat Legion Medusa is an artist and performer based in Bruni, Texas. Its preferred pronouns are it/its. It considers itself interspecies and is the most body-modified transexual in the world. It has performed suspensions by hook at art spaces, nightclubs, and restaurants throughout the United States. In 2020, it was a member of the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and Hollywood, an organization for LGBTQ+ communities. Medusa’s paintings and drawings depict aspects of its life and inspirations, such as mythological creatures, animals, and abstract gestures. It typically donates its artworks to a variety of charities. It is a parent to a 25-year-old son.
ELO is the alias of Enrique Leon, a Venezuelan/Colombian DJ also known as Leeon. He has played and been involved with clubs and festivals around the world, including the Glastonbury Festival, Berghain, Smartbar, Sustain-Release, and Honcho Campout. He co-runs the label Ediciones Danza Negra, a low-key label with the intention of highlighting local and Latin American talent. He has pushed to represent and amplify queer voices in the electronic music scene.