Interdisciplinary storyteller, writer, translator and social justice activist. She is widely known for her work in video, performance, theatre as well as for her critical contributions to transsexual and sex worker political movements and cultures. Performative texts published in Bent on Writing : Contemporary Queer Tales (Women’s Press, 2002), Working Sex: Sex Workers Write about a Changing Industry (Seal Press, 2007), Luttes XXX : Inspirations du mouvement des travailleuses du sexe (Remue-Ménage, 2011). Political texts appear in Whore Carnival (autonomedia, 1996), My Breasts, My Choice: Journeys through Surgery (Sumach Press, 2004), and Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions and Imperialism (Women’s Press, 2011). Her work is featured in The Romance of Transgression: Queer Sexualities, Nations, Cinéma (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), and the Canadian Theatre Review (spring 2007). Ross grew up in a taudis on the South-Shore of Montréal with dogs, chicken, cats and sewer rats as well as her illiterate but resourceful father, and a colorful, foulmouthed Métis maternal family originally from the Maskinongé/Rivière-du-loup region of Eastern Québec.
artist statement gathered for topographixx: trans in the landscape
"L'interdisciplinarité est pour moi un impératif culturel et politique. Métisse de souche, issue d'une famille de tradition strictement orale, mon rapport à l'écrit est paradoxal."
Mon identité métisse est profondément enracinée, historiquement et spirituellement, dans la résilience des premières générations de femmes métisses, ces mères de clans à l'origine du mystère de nos vies et de notre survie collective aujourd'hui.
"Coming from a strictly oral tradition, written text was for my family like a mirror, one that spits right back in your face your own miserable self-image... text seemed to exist only to remind us that we were of an inferior, illiterate breed. Today, text and orality co-exist peacefully within my consciousness."
"I study, practice and critique feminist and post-colonial translation theory. Experimental subtitling allows me to put theory into practice. I choose to intervene directly on the images. For example, I often incorporate subtitles directly on the master copy so that submasters, screeners, and all dubs can only be watched in the original multilingual version. I'll also leave certain words in the source language, the word "hijra" for example... In my video Live eXXXpressions, I was working with a Bengali translator and we decided to leave the word "hijra" untranslated in the Bengali to English subtitle... The same speech segment was translated by someone else and they translated "hijra" by "transgender"... "
"Most profound, life defining influences came from my encounter, as a young teenager, with the poetics and kindred cosmology of Jovette Marchessault, Anne-Marie-Alonzo, Louise de Gonzag-Pelletier, Pol Pelletier, Janou Saint-Denis and Rachel Rosenthal. Powerful female artists who pursued their own artistic visions across, in-between, and outside disciplines, giving birth to new artistic paradigms with which I could identify... aspire to situate, inscribe my own vision alongside..."
(Excerpts from artist declaration, RAIQ - Regroupement des arts inter-disciplinaires du Québec, 2012)
« I have been producing videos about transsexuality since 1993. I have always seen my work as activist-oriented and as contributing to changing the terms of the conversations around transsexual issues. In addition, my video making has been motivated by my desire to contribute to the development of a small but radical body of work produced by a handful of transsexual film and video makers internationally. Until 1998, most of my videos were concerned with archiving transsexual histories while challenging audiences - particularly those from the lesbian, gay, and feminist communities - with uncensored and diverse representations of transsexual lives, sexualities, and political struggles. While such concerns were certainly noble, since 1997, my video work has become less and less about issues of representation and even less so about a duty to “give a voice to my community.” My focus has shifted to developing a visual language that articulates the joys and perils of living culturally, sexually, and spiritually as a woman in a mixed body. I have no interest whatsoever in producing “objective” video documents. I am personally and politically involved with all of the issues and polemics my video work addresses and this partly explains why so much of it is elaborated from actual performance art pieces. By using performance interventions as points of departure to develop my videos, I end up producing work that is grounded in my body and that reflects a full engagement on my part. »
(Artist Statement for Tremblement de Chair & Other Transsexual Tremors, AKA Gallery 2004)
« One example is “Tremblement de Chair,” a video I did in which images of tornadoes are layered over a slow moving image of my boyfriend’s hand caressing my body. What I was doing was something people will say had been done before: mixing images of nature with images of the human body. It is something that has been done particularly by feminist artists exploring issues of spirituality and the connection between women and nature, etc. So I am referencing a lot of that feminist type of work, but what I am also challenging is the idea that transsexual bodies cannot be included as part of these “natural” women bodies connected to nature and the universe that feminist artists talk about. I am challenging the idea that as transsexuals we cannot find our reflection in nature the way these feminist artists and women can. There has been a very damaging feminist discourse on transsexuality claiming that we are the product of destructive and dehumanizing patriarchal technologies gone mad, that we are not “natural” but “man-made”. So it was very important for me to challenge that claim by doing work in which I use images of nature as metaphors for the powerful transformation and moving process we experience as transsexuals. It was a way to respond to this anti-transsexual discourse articulated by feminists, including feminist artists. »
(Excerpt from interview by Lisa Pereira, OCAD, November 25th, 2002
Mirha-Soleil Ross is an interdisciplinary storyteller, writer, translator and social justice activist. She is widely known for her work in video, performance, and theatre as well as for her critical contributions to transsexual and sex worker political movements and cultures. Her work has been presented at festivals in Canada, Australia, Hungary, France, Ireland, Germany, England, Spain, Holland, and the US. Highlights include És un plaer trobar-nos (eBent’03, Barcelona), Tremblement de Chair & other Transsexual Tremors (AKA Gallery, Regina), Les véritées vo(i)lées (VAV Gallery, Montréal), Bini (Rhubarb Festival, Toronto), and Yapping Out Loud: Contagious Thoughts from an Unrepentant Whore (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 2004-2005 season, Toronto). Her performance texts appear in Bent on Writing : Contemporary Queer Tales (Women’s Press, 2002), eXXXpressions: Forum XXX Proceedings (Stella, 2006), Working Sex: Sex Workers Write about a Changing Industry (Seal Press, 2007) and Luttes XXX : Inspirations du mouvement des travailleuses du sexe (Remue-Ménage, 2011). Political texts appear in Whore Carnival (autonomedia, 1996), My Breasts, My Choice: Journeys through Surgery (Sumach Press, 2004), and Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions and Imperialism (Women’s Press, 2011). Her work is featured in The Romance of Transgression: Queer Sexualities, Nations, Cinéma (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), Canadian Theatre Review (spring 2007) as well as in the NFB documentary In the Flesh (Gordon McLenan, 1998). She received the Marion McMahon award for Materstina (Images Festival 2004) and Prix du public for Allo Performance! (Les Nomades du court métrage 2005). From 1992-1995, she edited and published, with Xanthra Mackay, GENDERTRASH, a political magazine for transsexual and transgendered people. In 1997, she founded COUNTING PAST 2, (Canada's first multidisciplinary art festival dedicated to the presentation of music, dance, film, performance, and spoken word created by Canadian and International transsexual and transgendered artists. During her 3 years as curator and producer of the festival, she presented the Canadian premieres of such work as Christopher Lee’s Trappings of Transhood, Alley of the Tranny Boys, Sex, Flesh and Blood; Alec Butler’s Adventures’ of Pussy Boy, Hans Scheirl’s cinematographic hand-crafted masterpiece DANDY DUST, The Intersex Society of North America’s groundbreaking Hermaphrodites Speak Out!, as well as live performances by Mohawk performance artist AIYYANA MARACLE, Blackfoot/Latino/Sephardic Poet Max Wolf Valerio and Chicago-based intersex-leatherdyke activist Lynnel Stephani Long. Ross has also curated programs of literature, performance art and video work for festivals such as MAYWORKS (Working the Screen: Sex Worker Films and Videos), literary series such as CLIT LIT (Trans-Sex Fictions), and for artist-run centres such as Ed Video and Media Arts’ Centre (Trans-Canada, co-curated with James Nattal). In 1998, she joined the staff of the 519 Church Street Community Center to found MEAL-TRANS, Toronto’s first publicly funded multi-services, peer-run program for low income and street-active transsexual and transgendered people. At the outset of her two years as Coordinator of MEAL-TRANS, Ross had managed to secure funding for a TS/TG sex worker HIV/AIDS Prevention program, a TS/TG peer-run counseling Program, as well as encourage a local trans activist, Rupert Raj, to start a support group for trans men. From 1995 to 2000, she conducted educational workshops for the front-line and managerial staff of over 50 social services and health care agencies in Toronto and the surrounding regions. She also served as consultant for various researchers investigating transsexual and transgendered people’s experiences within the homeless and battered women’s shelter system, TS/TG people’s experiences with human rights violation, police brutality, addiction, incarceration, and especially, transsexual sex workers’ experiences with violence. In addition to her trans and sex worker activism, Ross hosted, from 1996-2000, ANIMAL VOICES, a weekly animal rights radio show on CIUT 89.5 FM (animalvoices.ca). She also produced numerous radio shows on topics such as disability and lesbian sexuality, trans parenting, transsexuals’ experiences with the Canadian Refugee Board, and AIDS advocacy. In 2001, she was elected Grand Mashal for the Toronto LGBT Pride Parade, becoming the first transsexual in Canada to be granted such an honor. In 2011, she was inducted into the Canadian Human Rights Queer Hall of Fame for her astounding contribution to transsexual, transgender and sex worker communities. Ross grew up in a cambouse on the south shore of Montréal with lots of cats and dogs, an illiterate but resourceful father, and a colourful, foulmouthed Métis maternal family originally from Maskinongé/ Rivière-du-loup regions of Eastern Québec.
Regroupement des artistes interdisciplinaires du Québec (RAIQ)
- Allo Performance! - From May 2001 to February 2002, transsexual artist Mirha-Soleil Ross appeared pregnant every time she was in public as part of her 9 month long performance art cycle "The Pregnancy Project". The Pregnancy Project explored transsexual women's relationship t
- Tremblement de Chair - A poetic meditation on the beauty, perils and power of sexuality in a transsexual woman's body. This and other videotapes by Mirha-Soleil Ross are distributed by V/Tape, Toronto.
- Lectura antropològica... - Una lectura antropològica i artística de Mirha-Soleil Ross . Conferència, 6 de desembre de 2003 al Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona D É B O R A H P U I G - P E Y S T I E F E L
- Trans in the Landscape - In what way is the right to the city expressed through the strategies of squatting? How could these actions be considered expressions of society rather than places of utopia?
- És un plaer trobar-nos - Mirha-Soleil Ross presents It's a pleasure meeting you... at eBent03 in Barcelone.