With her latex tetrapods and body horror earthlings, anthromorph is imagining a post-human future rooted in the distant past
“He deserves the world,” says Constantine Kaloutas, a half-human, half-fan-throated lizard otherwise known as ἄnthromorph. In 2021, the artist received a notification that Rick Owens had donated £5,000 to a GoFundMe account she had created to help subsidise the costs of facial feminisation surgery. “He was one of my biggest donors and then he reached out for a photoshoot – working together was amazing.” Despite never having met before, the duo approach fashion (be it traditional clothing or SFX) as a way to re-think and transgress the human body. It’s about liberating people from their fleshy confines and providing them with a vessel for transhuman change. Or, as ἄnthromorph puts it, “exploring post-human identity and redefining the binaries of human versus non-human, technology versus nature, and male versus female.”
An initial fascination with that vile, membranous prison – the human skin – led Kaloutas into prop-making, and then into sculpture, and then into costume design, which she’d use for online performance art. “I like humanising weird, earthling bodies and introducing them to my audience,” she says. Inspired by pre-historic life forms, her creations look like the rogue experiments of a mad scientist gone wrong: glutinous amphibians and cross-bred creatures that are neither alien, mammal, nor reptile. Seldom are there eye sockets or breathing holes, but there are plenty of exposed brains and Jurassic tails and cluttered fangs.
But Koulatas’ mutants are also coy and vulnerable, photographed in kittenish poses on the edge of a lagoon or hidden within wooded thickets. “It’s like a form of art therapy which helps me deal with gender dysphoria. It’s allowed me to integrate the feminine behaviours I had always been suppressing,” she says. Before she had begun to medically transition, it was those silicone exoskeletons that first brought Kaloutas closer in line to herself. “Every mask was an attempt to beautify my trans body and hybridise with nature. In nature, you are not queer you are just ‘you’. I found being closer to a shape-shifting animal gave me comfort. It was a gateway for me to transition and has grown and changed with me.”
In this way, ἄnthromorph – the Instagram character and the IRL alter-ego – chimes with what Donna Haraway was talking about when she wrote A Cyborg Manifesto in 1985. The essay described how technology had blurred the lines between the natural and the artificial and questioned how our bodies can be reborn from the blending of those boundaries. “Our perception of humanness has separated us from nature,” Kaloutas says. “We’re disconnected from the rhythms of the land and so we’ve turned into cancerous organisms. My work advocates for a human body that’s interconnected to the earth.” Just as Kaloutas has split herself into “Constantine” and “ἄnthromorph”, she continues to atomise herself across the ether, reckoning with the limits of her own consciousness via technospiritual and cyber shamanic meme-making.
“We are an extension of the whole,” she adds. “I don’t relate to the human experience, I would like to be an animal.” But we can no quicker abandon humanity than we can return to a time before phones had cameras: each and every step we take towards technological progress gets etched into stone like a palaeolithic rune. In interrogating the relationship between current tech and past mythologies, Kaloutas’ work imagines a world where primordial ecosystems and cyborgian futures grow and mutate amongst themselves – a speculative place where humankind might be reborn and rescued from staid binaries of nature versus culture and mind versus body. “I would like to experience the world through different senses and paint new images of reality,” she says. “I think I’d like to be a shapeshifter forever.”