Sarah Hill’s Flesh Prison

By GREG COOK  |  November 14, 2012


Sarah Hill stood near the door of Boston's Anthony Greaney Gallery a couple of Fridays ago as Hill's Flesh Prison screened on the opposite wall. The 15-minute video stars the 26-year-old Jamaica Plain resident getting baptized in a pond, dancing with a woman across a lawn, shoveling a grave at night and rolling a body in, choking up a feather, peeing in a yard, seeming dead, spitting, sleeping. Repeatedly the camera cuts close to Hill, painted bloody red, who suddenly lurches toward us and snarls. It's a glam queer horror film, hallucinatory and visceral and jarring, a blast of emotions.

"People ask me all the time: why am I so angry?" says Hill, who is transitioning from female to male, and identifies as "transgender queer." Just getting by in our heteronormative world is hard. "People can't read me as male or female, so therefore I get marked as deviant. . . . And since they can't understand it, they literally think I'm tricking them. Which isn't the case."

A performance last year (at the Museum School, where Hill was a student, among other locations) had Hill yelling "I'm fine" over and over until nearly collapsing. For Hill, going to such extremes addresses "not exactly feeling comfortable in the flesh that I have or was born into. So being able to push my body to an extreme like that is stepping back and taking control over this body that I do have."

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Visual Arts
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