Define Gender: Victoria Sin

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Define Gender: Victoria Sin is a documentary film by director Amrou Al-Kadhi that challenges and provokes the preconceived norms of queer spaces.

Drag is a deeply entrenched part of gay-male nightlife, making it hard to go to a gay bar without a drag performance occurring at some point of the evening. Drag Queens have played an important part in queer history - being the visual representation of defiance, operating underground gay bars and becoming mothers to younger, vulnerable queers. They’ve also had their critics, as the mere act of dressing in drag tends to create a parody of womanhood, over-accentuating body parts and essentially objectifying the female body in a weird, gay sort of way.

That’s why watching Al-Kadhi’s film is so interesting. Victoria Sin is a London based artist concerned with the physical within the social body. Their work explores desire, identification and objectification, essentially reinstating the political back into what has become an almost exclusively, entertainment-based style of performance. Also, they’re not a gay male - which somehow makes the entire persona and craft so incredibly refreshing. Victoria unapologetically takes up space when they’re in drag - using their wig as a metaphor for the tallness they feel when the persona is applied. They explore the power of the femme, while at the same time directing a spotlight onto the daily labours of femininity. Those silent, cursed veins that run through almost every part of modern society. It’s captivating, and challenging stuff.

The film itself is brilliantly put together. We watch Victoria come into being at every stage and see the power that exudes from them as they transform. It’s personal, it's empty, it's staunch, and despite the makeup, there's a real human-ness that lies at it’s very core.