May 25, 2019



The Silicon Valley effect has transformed us into cybernetic organisms. The social mask was quickly replaced by the online profile on social media sites that facilitates the better part of communication. Technology has become an integrated part of the 21st century human. Faced with the rapid evolution of robotics, a new apocalyptic theory was shaped: the end of humanity will happen when the robots will be able to build and program themselves. As opposed to other apocalypses from other eras, it is impossible to predict when The Silicon Valley Apocalypse will happen, after certain steps in the techno-robotic revolution will reach the peak of development. It is said that the road to the destruction of mankind is marked with chemicals that enter our bodies every day. Fast food is massively altered genetically in favor of quality production, inevitably leading to another type of physical degradation that calls for more and more chemical adjustments. We are full of chemicals; the natural body of the contemporary world is a theoretical illusion. Toxins come from all directions. Pollution has clogged all of our pores. Radiations of all kinds traumatize our tissues. Chemtrails. Will nature survive this new culture? Will any bit of humanity survive these transformations? What will the humanoids of the future look like? Within this imaginarium, the future of the world is reserved for the cyborgs and the faith of all humans will rest on the machines’ benevolence. Apocalyptic utopias are invariably searching for the salvation of this decaying world. Of course, in the eyes of the prophets of the internet, part of those found guilty are the same old: Jews, homosexuals and, recently, “gender ideology”. But the latest paranoia is the chemical attack!

Mi Kafchin – Reptilian in her thirties, 2019

The show Chemtrails, opened in late April at Nicodim gallery in Los Angeles, brings together artist Mi Kafchin’s most recent works, inspired by the dystopian imaginarium of the new apocalypses. The obsessions of the digital era are a constant source of inspiration for Mi Kafchin. The artists formulates veritable prophecies based of the contemporary imaginarium of so called conspiracy theories, thus building a self-fiction inspired by new contemporary mythologies. Using the surrealist methods of altering consciousness, the artist works with relevant vision. The artist illustrated post-human narratives in which atypical bodies described with the aesthetic registry of the monstrous carry on with their lives unbothered. A reptilian woman – “Reptilian in her Thirties” – drinks wine in a Jacuzzi with green water, somewhere in a probably underground ruin of a Spa. In another painting, a female character is purchasing Androcur, a drug usually prescribed for transgender women during their feminizing treatment. The corporeal choreography of the exchange between the doctor and patient is exaggerated, accentuating the unnatural aspects of these bodies with heads shaped as abstract geometric forms. Excess, deformity, superhuman corporeality are defining elements for the monstrous body, always presented in the familiar proximity of the female gender. Is this universe the imagining of body dysmorphic disorder, dictated by the demons of anxiety which invariably open the discussion on the reality of the monstrous body which was socially built along a long and degrading history? In queer theory, the discussion on monstrous/strange compared with the hetero-normative roles that dictate beauty standards is an essential premise for any discussion on difference. Renate Lorenz puts forward the careful reclaiming of the “freak show” history, last century’s exhibitions of human monstrosities, which she compares to the queer experience. “In using the figure of the freak as the foundation for a theory, I do so in reference to these violent histories of exclusion, exposure, staring and differentiating. In order to develop an alternative discourse on difference, it seems necessary tom e to claim the historical treatment of difference as the starting point for reworking it today, rather than understanding the histories of exclusion and violence as past and overwiting them with images of happy self-empowerment or with discourses of integration, tolerance, and gay pride.”

The monstrous represents the absolute difference; the body deviated from the acceptable norm. In relation to society, human monstrosity is traditionally either ridiculed or corrected. Mi Kafchin brings to the table the idea of correcting the queer/monstrous body via the representation of an Orthodox-Christian exorcism. The belief that a body can be possessed by various spirits is common in many primitive cultures, with the ritual of exorcism, cleansing or freeing the spirits as the solution as to why some symptoms allegedly disappear. As opposed to primitive cultures that recognize the existence of multiple genres, Christians are still trying to cure gender dysphoria with exorcism. While some seek to maintain the apparent order of nature in the limits of their own knowledge with the requisites for superstition, the evolution of medical technology opens up more and more real possibilities for body transformation. The non-human monstrosity is often the center of many paranoid-apocalyptic theories.

Mi Kafchin – The Woman’s Exorcism, 2019

The idea of a cyborg transformation of the body is a subversive leitmotif that often appears in Hortensia Mi Kafchin’s paintings. Conjugated in the registry of post-human monstrosity, the cyborg imaginarium shapes the utopia of a post-gender, post-race, post-norms world. In her 1985 manifesto, Donna Haraway places the cyborg in the avant-garde of radical feminist theory as an essential instrument for imagining a post-human future. “So my cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities, which progressive people might explore as one part of needed political work.” Besides, the cyborg is the mental space where thinking of body transformation with the help of machines becomes unlimited. It is the only cultural fiction that trans people can identify with.

Mi Kafchin – Ghost Doctor, 2019

Perhaps the most powerful subtext of this exhibition is the subtle process of identification. This mysterious world inhabited by bodies with monstrous features, from reptilians to technologically modified humanoid organisms, Hortensia Mi Kafchin[1]’s favorite subject, is always in the first person. The body dysmorphia and the gender dysphoria, the reality with which many trans people are confronted, births post-human chimeras. This self-referentiality is profound and opens at least two urgent things to reflect upon: the relationship between gender dysphoria and beauty standards and the problem with cultural representations of transgender people especially. The cultural invisibility, the absence of a representative cultural discourse to highlight the symptoms of gender dysphoria. I am reminded of an interview with the artist from a few months back, in which we discussed the need for specific knowledge: “(…) in Romania back then? There was nothing, no access to information. There was no internet in Galați. This was a time when I accumulated a lot of shame, fear, frustrations, but I learned a trade.”

Hortnesia Mi Kafchin is obsessed with the technique of painting, which aided her in becoming, without any irony, despite the overused term in contemporary culture, a master of painting. From the perspective of the pictorial technique, the artist stands out due to the refinement with which it masters both color and sketching, integrating fragments and coherently mixes various styles. I want to highlight this aspect not for encouraging painting hierarchies based on used canons, nor to conform to neoliberal principles of art excellency, but because I find it subversive to have an exceptional talent that helps an artist make room for herself in the mainstream of contemporary art.



[1] Mi Kafchin started using the name Hortensia since May 2018.


Mi Kafchin, Chemtrails, is at Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles between April 20th – June 1st, 2019. Curator – Aaron Moulton


Valentina Iancu

Valentina Iancu (b. 1985) is a writer with studies in art history and image theory. Her practice is hybrid, research-based, divided between editorial, educational, curatorial or management activities ...

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