Cassils is from Montreal, Canada and is now based in Los Angeles. Their work uses the body in a sculptural fashion, integrating feminism, body art, and gay male aesthetics. Listed by the Huffington Post as “one of ten transgender artists who are changing the landscape of contemporary art,” Cassils has achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture. Featuring a series of bodies transformed by strict physical training regimes, Cassils’ artworks offer shared experiences for contemplating histories of violence, representation, struggle, and survival, often juxtaposing the immediacy, urgency and ephemerality of live performance against constructed acts for camera in order to challenge the “documentarian truth factor” of images. Bashing through gendered binaries, Cassils performs transgender not as a crossing from one sex to another but rather as a continual process of becoming, a form of embodiment that works in a space of indeterminacy, spasm and slipperiness. It is with sweat, blood and sinew that Cassils constructs a visual critique around ideologies and histories.
Recent solo exhibitions include MU Eindhoven (Netherlands), Trinty Square Video (Toronto), and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York). Cassils’s work has also been featured at Institute for Contemporary Art and The National Theatre (London), MUCA Roma, (Mexico City), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (Los Angeles), Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Salt Lake City), ANTI Contemporary Performance Festival (Kuopio, Finland), Museo da Imagem e do Som (São Paulo, Brazil), Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo (San José, Costa Rica), and Deutsches Historishes Museum (Berlin, Germany). Cassils is the recipient of a 2015 Creative Capital Award. They have also received the inaugural ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art, Rema Hort Mann Visual Arts Fellowship, California Community Foundation Grant, MOTHA (Museum of Transgender Hirstory) award, and Visual Artist Fellowship from the Canada Council of the Arts. Their work has been featured in New York Times, Wired, The Guardian, TDR, Performance Research, Art Journal, and Vogue Brazil and was the subject of the monograph Cassils published by MU Eindhoven in 2015. Cassils received a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, Canada and attended the MFA program at California Institute of the Arts from 2000-2002 on a highly coveted merit scholarship.
NOTE ON GENDER AND PRONOUN USAGE
Cassils is a gender non-conforming trans masculine visual artist. Cassils uses plural gender-neutral pronouns (they, them, their) and asks that journalists do likewise when referring to them. This plurality reflects through language the position Cassils occupies as an artist. For guidelines on writing about gender non-conforming people, please reference the GLAAD Media Reference Guide on Transgender Issues.