A crown upside down
Performance by Filippo Riniolo, with Francesco Marsili
Tuesday, March 28, 2023 6:30 p.m. single performance
AlbumArte | Via Flaminia 122, Rome
Special thanks to Paola Ugolini and Pietro Gaglianò for the fertile and generative dialogue without which this work would not exist
Thanks to Ultraqueer of TWM Factory for the support
AlbumArte presents the live performance A crown upside down, by and with Filippo Riniolo, with the participation of Francesco Marsili. Tuesday, March 28, 2023 6:30 p.m. (one performance only)
In Italy, the gender transition path consists of many stages, primarily a long psychological and endocrinological journey. The most incredible moment comes when all the specific paths are concluded and the request for the change of documents is made, for which the bureaucratic process requires that a civil court judge, must proceed to legally reassign the applicant’s gender. Unfortunately, however, the judge does not merely take note of the pathway and the individual’s request, but is called upon to make a “discretionary” determination as to whether the person is “male enough” or “female enough” to be eligible for this reassignment.
In the case of a man born biologically female, since the subject cannot by law be required to undress, the judge may assess the transition to male gender by taking into consideration the beard. If not with a discreetly full beard, which would show that the analyzed subject could be quite “manly,” the judge might reject the application.
There are a thousand paradoxes. The first is that not all cisgender males have beards. And if many of them were to be evaluated by a judge, it is not certain that they would have recognized the gender they were given at birth and accept as their gender identity. More importantly, it is anachronistic to ask noncisgender people to have to switch from one gender stereotype to another, without being able to be “in the middle” in one of the many shades that gender has.
The beard, therefore, becomes an upside-down crown, the symbol of the male being displayed on the face. Thus the judge when he has to ratify the gender of male election, only to that he can refer, to see if the applicant is male enough. If he wears the crown symbolizing manhood, that reminds each other and others who is in charge.
During the performance, on the day the judge’s sentencing for Francesco is scheduled, artist Riniolo, who does not care for this crown at all, gives it to his friend. In jest but not in pretense. As if the masculine is the beard. As if gender could be passed or donated.
The artist thus creates an ironic performance, where on the day of a judgment, the defendant becomes the patriarchy.
Passing the beard is an absurd gesture, as absurd as that of the judge. What happens: if I no longer have a beard, I am no longer male?
Riniolo’s performative gesture is meant to reflect and highlight all the contradictions of this legal procedure, this process. The state should simply take note of the phenomenon and the gender of election, after doctors and psychologists have made a report on the person who is the protagonist of the process. Above all, it cannot be accepted that male and female are fixed and crystallized stereotypes to be adhered to. Whether I am male or female, and how I am male and/or female is for me to decide.