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Marvin Gaye Cetwynd ‘Ze and Per’

To mark the end of the Easter term, a group of the MA Painters went to visit and explore some of the galleries nestled in London’s urban jungle. One of these was Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s exhibition, Ze & Per, a show which encouraged imagination and thought. One of the mounted structures was interactive, which allowed us to engage closely with the piece in a way which we are often unable to. Further, the bright colours and ‘beasts’ depicted in the paintings, and giant reliefs, led to discussions amongst peers, as they reminisced about trips to the theatre or creating work for school shows and productions. Another aspect of the exhibition that made me reflect back was the title, ‘Ze’ and ‘Per’, two gender neutral pronouns. Gender and is fluidity is a key aspect of my current studio practice and so any exhibition which explores its boundaries interests me. Chetwynd has been subject to news articles after changing her name (not legally) from Alalia to Spartacus in 2006, and then, again, to Marvin in 2013. Chetwynd has previously noted that adopting new names has proven incredibly interesting, as it is curious to see what type of people objected and why they chose to voice their concerns. Inevitably, actions such as these expose the prejudice latent in society, which is often felt by members of the trans community. With an interview with the Guardian in 2013, Chetwynd notes her father’s initial uneasiness and reluctance when she chose to adopt a male name instead of her ‘female’ birth-name. However, the name change was not a result of Chetwynd’s belief that she was not aligned with the gender assigned to her at birth, but was, rather, performative. This seems, once again, to be reflected in her work, as one feels when walking into the exhibition they are walking into a performance and are sometimes, even performing themselves. 

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