HERMAN@S (Les Adelphes)
Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
A radically political fever dream of a film greets us in the cerebral Herman@s (Sibling X) from Hélène Alix Mourrier. Herman@s takes us on a journey through time and space with Cuco/Cuca, a transgender latex clad pirate born of mystery and myth. Cuco/a’s ability to move through time and space brings to the fore the precarity of the transgender identity within contemporary governments and states. And at the same time this transcendence of time and space brims with an incredible and deft representation of intersectional politics that effectively foregrounds the commonalities of multiple oppressed groups throughout the globe but especially in Mourrier’s native France.
Chiefly, Herman@s’ opening articulates a transgender identity against dominant conservative and regressive reactionary politics. All too often the impulse is to argue for biology-as-destiny, that the body you are born with (sex) must and always will determine gender. More than arguing against this (Cuco/a’s gender is unintelligible to us as they are clad in latex – we must take their gender identity at their word) Mourier’s film defies and obscures the idea of origination. Being born of mystery and myth, comparable to monsters, spirits, birds, ghosts and dreams, Cuco/a doesn’t belong to a lineage of origination. Without discernible cause and effect, bringing into question ideas of existence and being (is Cuco/a a continuation), the transgender identity represented in Herman@s defies notions of the corporeal body. We must look elsewhere for Cuco/a’s identity.
What is so excellent about Herman@s is that it does stop in its perambulatory remarks on transgender identity but breaks open into collective commonalities between transgender people and other oppressed groups. The most pertinent is that of the politics of visibility common to both transgender people and Muslim women. Whilst socially disparate, Mourrier’s reveals the common ground of these two group’s oppression as originating within the demand for empirical proof and visibility by the French state. Transgender people must prove their status through biology; Muslim women must remove their religious dress. This move from singularity to collective commonality inflects both with the resonance of the other. Mourrier’s film thus takes what has been negatively branded identity politics and explodes this to consider the common identity we may all have under the oppression of the state.
Hélène has asked that we link to three projects and activist groups relating to Herman@s (Sibling X):
First, the anti-racist comity La Vérité pour Adama, leads by Assa Traoré since 2016,
who is mobilizing to have the responsibility of the gendarmes recognized in the death of her brother.
LA VÉRITÉ POUR ADAMA
Le Comité La Vérité pour Adama
Twitter : La Vérité pour Adama
Insta : Assa Traoré
Secondly, Hélène’s own collective, Bye Bye Binary, founded in 2018 and composed of 30 persons
They propose to explore new graphic and typographic forms adapted to the French language, in particular the creation of glyphs (letters, ligatures, midpoints, elements of connection or symbiosis) taking as a starting point a field of experimentation and a subject of research inclusive and non-binary language and writing.
BYE BYE BINARY
Site : Genderfluid Bye Bye Binary
Insta : Bye Bye Binary
Lastly, OUTrans, a feminist trans self-help association for transmasculine, transfeminine, non-binary, questioning people, and their cisgender allies, from the transmasculine community.
OUTRANS : Opé-trans (booklets)
Insta : OUTrans