10 things you need to know about torraine futurum

Shot by Petra Collins for our Female Gaze Issue, say hello to the New York artist cementing her fantasies, desires, love letters and frustrations in time forever.

by Matthew Whitehouse
02 September 2016, 8:25am

"I had every intention of arriving on this planet," says Torraine Futurum. "Just not as forcefully and tumultuously as I did." The woman who fell to earth did not land as the confident artist-cum-model seen treading the runway for Rio Uribe's Gypsy Sport or featuring in Carly Rae Jepsen's Boy Problems video alongside Tavi Gevinson and Barbie Ferreira. Instead it was a 2014 annus horribilis in which the young New Yorker lost everything ("And I promise that is not hyperbole. I lost everything except my breath.") that presented her with the chance to start from scratch; or as she puts it: "the opportunity to think about the person I would be if I was the only one on earth." Documenting her transition through a series of cathartic self portraits titled Transgression: A Self-Centered Art Project, the aim was to cement these formative years - and all the fantasies, desires, love letters and frustrations that went with them - in time forever. "I believe in art. I cry over great songs, photos, films, even hair and makeup looks all the time," she says. "Love and art are the two most pure things humans have. And you can't always make love, but you can always make art." Here are ten things you need to know...

1. She sees her work as pages from a journal….
"It's very cathartic. I've addressed so much and released a lot of shame and insecurity through my art. Words I could never say now exist visually forever. If I had to describe it, I'd say 'each work is just a chunk of debris from two comets colliding.' Because I'm obnoxious."

2. And the aim behind Transgression: A Self-Centered Art Project as documentation...
"I think initially it started off with me wanting to be understood by some people who hurt and/or abandoned me. I wanted them to understand what I was actually going through."

3. She shoots with emotion…
"I collage with emotion, I digitally manipulate with emotion, I film with emotion, I paint with emotion. To me, the work is explicit; especially in conjunction with the titles. But my themes are not so specific that a person viewing the work can't project their own emotions into it."

4. And believes there's nothing more revolutionary than someone with nothing lose…
"It's a surreal kind of freedom. I think humans on this planet get so wrapped up in the concepts of what they think they 'need' and what they 'can't live without,' and including their social statuses. Once those things were forcibly taken away from me, I had the opportunity to start from scratch."

5. She's reluctant to talk about her transition to a largely cisgender audience…
"I'm not sure how relevant it is to understanding me as a person. But if any trans/gender non-conforming person wants to ask me, me they can hop in my DMs on social media or email me. I'll definitely be happy answer that way."

6. And while she thinks it's great the trans community has a voice, she's clear there's still a very long way to go…
"People are still struggling on things like pronouns and how to talk about trans lives without offensive language and how to not regurgitate reductive narratives. I'm sorry, but you don't get call yourself an ally just because you can tolerate being around us. A lot needs to happen next. I'd need a long form essay to get all of that out. I hope someone will commission me to write one at some point."

7. She's fiercely protective of her autonomy…
"I'm not a great person to be around when I feel like I'm not in control of my life."

8. And she considers happiness the most important thing in life...
"It's so cliché, but it's true. I just move on when something stops working."

9. Life hasn't always been easy…
"Let me tell you, I've been through Hell and back. I actually frequent Hell. I have a timeshare there."

10. But it's given her empathy….
"Trans women. All of them. All over the world. The amount of privileges you give up, the amount of abuse you are face with every day, all the doors that are closed to you...to be alive is a fucking miracle. I think all trans women are phenomenal no matter what they look like or how they feel about themselves, even if they feel nobody loves them, I do. I want all of us to stay alive. If you read this, please stay alive. We are all phenomenal."


Text Matthew Whitehouse
Photography Petra Collins
Torraine wears jumper Hardeman. Jeans Diesel. Earrings Toga. 

Petra Collins
Female Gaze
The Female Gaze Issue
torraine futurum