Conor Collins took transphobia and used it as material for artwork – predictably he got hate-tweets all of his own
The internet is duplicitous. One hand it’s the best thing in the world, ever. On the other it’s an ever-expanding monument to the very worst of humanity. Artist Conor Collins watched the death threats and hate received by Caitlyn Jenner in the days after she came out as transgender. Horrified, he decided to turn try and make a positive out of an extreme negative, by turning transphobia into art. Collins used all the hate-tweets to recreate the now iconic Annie Leibovitz portrait of Jenner from the cover of Vanity Fair.
We spoke to Collins. He said that when she came out he naturally went on her Twitter profile to find out more and found himself disgusted by some of the comments: “When I saw them I wanted to share them," he said. "Because it is a reality of what trans people experience every day. I didn’t want to hide the darkness and persecution they face in my art piece. It just wouldn’t be fair.”
Caitlyn was delighted by the tribute, sharing it on Twitter, much to Jeremy Scott's approval.
He created the portrait far quicker than his usual work. “It didn't take as long as I thought it would to create it,” he said. “Normally my pieces take around two months to two years to make. However the majority of this piece took from 5pm Friday until sunrise on Saturday. I didn’t stop at all and by the time I made it to bed, my hand hurt so much from being in a fixed position that I couldn’t plug my phone in to charge.”
Predictably (this is the internet), Collins received backlash himself. “I’ve received a fair bit of hate mail in my emails overnight from people who hate the trans community, or hate me. But I find the more hate-mail I receive the better job I am probably doing.”
Collins is a supporter of LGBT rights and believes that there is still a long way to go for trans rights. “I believe that the trans community has lacked support, even within the LGBT community throughout the years,” he said.
“Even though a trans person of colour was the person who started the Stonewall Riots, trans people, particularly trans people of colour, are still in real danger. It’s something that needs to be addressed and soon.”
He’s right – the number of murders of trans women of colour keeps rising and shows no sign of slowing. Creative measures like this are a peaceful way to show solidarity and get a powerful message across.