Broad shoulders, bulging muscles, and fur – on the back, on the abdomen, under the armpits. At first sight, the caricaturally exaggerated attributes of hunk and stud maleness seem to confirm the gender binary. But the fur starts growing over the whole body, assuming an unnatural colour, and from between the muscles there emerge horns and tails. Man turns into a fantastic creature that crosses over the boundaries of species and gender.
In his latest series of works, Sebastian Sebulecexamines pop-cultural exemplars of masculinity, filtered through the aesthetics of fan-art renderings of RPG warriors, anime characters, or anthropomorphic human-animal hybrids of the furry fandom.
Fan art, though associated mainly with non-professional production, may also include skilfully executed illustrations, figures, costumes, or hyperrealistic 3D models. The development of 3D modelling technology could actually be traced by looking at digitally-rendered hair – from the immobile helmets on the heads of the protagonists of early video games to the shiny, wind-swept fur of animal characters in the latest Hollywood animations.
But the reproduction of images of pop-cultural heroes is for the makers of fan art merely a point of departure for bringing forth fantastic alter egos and narratives that bend the rules governing the given universe. Sebulec is interested in the fandom primarily as a platform of experimentation with identity, where it can be reconstructed on one’s own terms. Hybrid alter egos free the player not only from the constraints of the body, but above all from social oppression. A flight into a fantasy world from a reality where difference – physical, mental, or sexual – is not tolerated can in fact be an emancipatory act of creating for oneself a space where difference is welcomed with open arms – and wind-blown fur.
- Maja Demska