Is that a mushroom, or his “peen”? Is that a pile of leaves or a pile of bones? Is that the “trunk” of the body? Valentin Brown queers the human body by combining it with forms from nature to create what he calls “soft body horror”—a mythology of monsters that describe his story. Valentin’s story sits a largely neglected intersection: he is an autistic, trans man who inherited a complicated history of intergenerational trauma. His grotesque guardians express how he makes meaning, through a gaze that is queer, trauma-informed, and on the spectrum.
Through the many eyes (or lack thereof) in the “soft body horror” world, Valentin reframes the loneliness, disquiet, and grief that result from the tangled intersecting parts of who he is. This way of seeing embraces the in-between places, and the places outside the scales on which he has been taught to place importance and meaning. “Soft body horror” gives Valentin space to begin re-experiencing his story in bits and pieces, in a greater context of awe, humour, and hope.
Valentin lives and works in Hamilton, Ontario at Steel City Studio, and is a graduate of the Visual and Creative Arts program at Sheridan College. He has exhibited in group shows at Sheridan College, at the Durham Art Gallery, and in Art Spin Toronto’s 2018 project “Holding Patterns.” In 2019, he was awarded Tangled Art + Disability’s Won Lee Fellowship, and the Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency. Valentin is exhibiting his first solo show, “Body Farm,” with Tangled Arts + Disability, November 8th – December 20th, 2019. “Body Farm” will be coming to Hamilton at the You Me Gallery in Spring 2020.