Skip to main content
Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Joa Blumenkranz

Joa Blumenkranz (b. 1994 in Vejle, Denmark) has lived, studied, and exhibited their art in Aarhus, Barcelona, and London where they have been enrolled in several art institutions. In 2019 they received a diploma in Studio Arts from Metàfora in Barcelona and in 2022 they graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in London with a BA in Fine Art: Sculpture.

A person with long blonde hair is wearing a tiara, thong, and heels while dancing in front of a black background.

Joa Blumenkranz is a dollmaker, performer, and sculptor who works within the realm of queer fabulation and transgender issues. They wonder about questions of gender, sexuality, and biology seen from their own situated knowledge as a transfeminine person. They seek to explore the illusion of selfhood, specifically in relation to sex and gender, and aim to depart from notions of essentialism, anthropocentrism, and the gender binary. They employ a wide array of disciplines including needle-felting, illustration, choreography, and music, which come together in vibrant live performances and video pieces.

Joa understands their artwork as a form of crafty queer worldbuilding that merges their lived experience as a marginalized/fetishized body with a sexy fantasy world of the beyond. The metaphor of the hybrid/mutant/cyborg is often used to speculate about and express their longing for a post-gender, post-human reality. They are impacted by their upbringing in the 90’s and early 00’s in Denmark, where they were enmeshed in Nordic crafts and mythology and later immersed in the rise of the internet, which gave them the early tools to develop as a queer visual/performance artist. Their intention is to reimagine performance art by transgressing hierarchical barriers between fine art and pop culture.

Warning: This section contains mature or explicit content.

Click to Enter

'Siren Song' is inspired by the intimate experiences I have had with cisgender men as a transfeminine person. It deals with the ways in which trans and gender non-conforming bodies and lives disrupt not only traditional binary notions of identity - but also desire. The project combines different elements such as music, choreography, and costume design and has resulted in a video piece.

The process started with a collection of voice notes that I had received from romantic/sexual partners in previous years. I wanted to tackle the subject of transness in the context of intimate relationship dynamics, and so I wrote a poem that took the form of musical storytelling and included the voice notes in an anonymized state. I decided to embody a character for the piece that would resemble a cross between a siren, a stripper, and a spirit. The goal was to represent the transfeminine subject as an unapologetic and precious being to undermine the gaze of degradation and sexual repression that is often projected onto trans bodies.

I chose the metaphor of the siren because of its specific connotations with queer and transfeminine identity. It has been argued by Danish professor in Nordic literature, Dag Heede, that ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Hans Christian Andersen was an autobiographical story about “a love triangle between a prince, a princess, and a strange transgender sea creature.” Hans Christian Andersen wrote the fairytale when his friend Edvard Collin, who he was in love with, married a woman. This knowledge turns the story into an allegory on life as a trans/queer person. The mermaid is an ambiguous creature who wants to find her place in the world, which takes her on a journey of radical transformation. She wants to feel freedom and love like anyone else at any price, but the world seems to be an impossible place for her to find it – even if she sacrifices her voice or gets rid of her “tail”.

Another angle to the siren reference comes from its origins in Greek mythology where she was described as a hybrid creature that would lure sailors to their death by seducing them with her voice. Sirens, like transfeminine people, are seen as sketchy, yet alluring creatures that live on the margins of reality. They are both accused of tricking men into their own demise – be it literally or socially.

For this piece, I wanted to give the siren a voice of redemption to challenge the patriarchal sexual shame that still permeates society. Far too often, it is easier for men to blame and harm others for their own sexuality, than it is to accept and develop a healthy relationship with it. I wanted to reclaim the ‘siren song’ from being seen as a deceitful appeal and turn it into a call for justice. It is a response to the misplacement of blame put on queer people and women for men’s offences. With this piece, it is my hope that I can make a pungent statement about the fluid nature of human sexuality and point out the hypocrisy and pain that results from denying it.