MY HIDEOUS PROGENY (“SHALL I CREATE ANOTHER LIKE YOURSELF…”)
NATHANIEL DEAN MONDRAGON
In Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel Frankenstein, the monster demands that his creator build him a female companion—and Dr. Victor Frankenstein refuses. Inspired by the monster’s desire for a partner of his same nature, I made two body-sized Frankenstein monster masks as a pair of companions.
The soft sculptures measured five feet by four feet each and were installed on the gallery floor. The two masks were both cast in green latex. However, on the surface of one of them, I painted drag makeup, reinforcing the idea of companionship through a gender binary. A clone of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, once renounced for its hideousness, is given a drag makeover.
I am interested in how identity is worn on the surface, and how easy it is to manipulate perception through alteration of the exterior. The functions of makeup and Halloween masks double up on each other, and this soft sculpture illustrates a layering of masquerading identities. As symbols of “the Other,” the alienated monster and the homosexual icon of the drag queen conflate into one super Other.
During the exhibition’s reception, I activated the sculptures through performance. Under the green latex mask, I moved across the floor like a crab, animating the object. I struggled for breath and would crawl in fits and starts, collapsing over and over again. The sounds of the latex mask echoed throughout the room like an old deflated tire slapping against the ground.
Then I activated the mask in drag makeup. I crawled under the mask and stood up. Being too large for my head alone, the mask became a floppy latex garment. As a sequence of actions, I would move my body until I found a pose, freeze for a few moments, and repeat. With each pose, the sculpture’s form and facial features shifted and contorted into a series of live images for the audience. The gallery became a catwalk and I became a shapeshifter.