Tell Me The Truth

Toronto-based multi-media artist Chase Joynt, and Kristen Schilt (University of Chicago, Department of Sociology), explore the construction of public narratives about institutional and individual identities in a year-long project entitled Tell Me The Truth.  Throughout 2013-14, Joynt & Schilt will curate a series of screenings, readings, and multi-media installations that highlight queer artistic collaboration in an attempt to deploy and disrupt positions of scholarly, artistic and experiential authority.

In the last two decades representations of transgender people have proliferated in the media, in academia, and in the arts. While cisgender scholars generate the most widely circulated of these representations by invoking credential-based authority and the objectivity of an outsider vantage point, transgender people utilize experience-based authority and insider positionality to provide contestations, amendments, and validations to such works. The emergence of varying and competing transgender narratives raises important questions about how positionality shapes knowledge production. How and where do narratives that contest the scholarly public record get told; how are complex and hybrid identities represented in a static public record, and what experiences and identities are legitimated or omitted throughout these processes?

Tell Me The Truth engages these questions through hybridized and experimental modes of artistic and theoretical inquiry.  Joynt and Schilt have become established voices speaking about the transgender community – Joynt by making art that is based in his own experiences as a transgender man, and Schilt as a cisgender sociologist representing the experiences of transgender people. In this collaborative project, Joynt and Schilt seek to disrupt these positionalities of scholarly and experiential authority. Their goal is to examine the processes of constructing public narratives about what it means to be transgender in our respective fields, to reveal what gets left out (and why), and to investigate what these lacunae could mean for conventionalized claims of “truth” and “authenticity.”