The exhibition “Asma Kazmi: Playing Gender” will be on display from Oct. 11 to Dec. 1 at Gallery 210. (Photo by Asma Kazmi)

Is our gender something we are born with, or is it something we put on and perform daily?

A new exhibit at Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis will probe the notion that gender derives from culture and not nature.

The exhibition “Asma Kazmi: Playing Gender” will include photography, installation, drawing and video. It will open to the public Oct. 11 with a reception for Kazmi from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Kazmi will give a slide talk starting at 6:15 p.m. The show will be on display through Dec. 1.

The exhibit will look at a section of modern Indian society – cross-dressed biological men, eunuchs or hermaphrodites – known traditionally as hijras, who exist on the fringes of Indian society. They are tolerated only in the specific roles of beggars, ritual performers or homosexual prostitutes. They can be seen in drag, gathered for marriages and birth celebrations, singing and dancing to drums and claps, to songs from the latest popular films.

Kazmi spent the summer of 2009 working with three hijras in New Delhi, learning the conventions of gender parody. The culmination of her interactions with the hijras resulted in a performance that was captured on video and will be featured in the exhibition.

Gallery 210 was established in 1976 at UMSL. It was named for its initial location, 210 Lucas Hall. The gallery has since grown to include three exhibition spaces and a 50-seat auditorium at its current location, adjacent to the Campus Police Building at UMSL, 1 University Blvd. in St. Louis County (63121).

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment. All exhibits are free and open to the public.

The exhibition is supported in part by grants from the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council with additional assistance from The Center for the Humanities at UMSL and the Schlafly Tap Room.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez

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