Engender my past
7 October–21 November 2021
Uppsala Art Museum
Recipient of the Uppsala Municipal Award Grant for Recently Graduated Visual Artists 2020/21

“I can’t go back into the past and change it, but I have noticed that the future changes
the past”, writes Jeanette Winterson in the novel Gut Symmetries. The artist Victoria
Verseau applies the same probing attitude and lets the past reflect itself in the present
in an examination of body and identity.
The exhibition is a spatial installation where memory fragments are materialized as
sculpture and moving image. Recently produced pieces relate to previously shown
artworks. A cat-walk-podium recalls the balancing act between the narrow corridors
from psychiatric emergency departments and the perfect bodily appearance. Materials
such as neon, acrystal, linoleum and latex link to smells and tactility and emit the same
elusive fragility as a cared for memory.

A mental and physical journey – from boy to woman
Thematically Victoria Verseau returns to the hotel in Thailand where she in 2012 under-
went gender confirmation surgery. She remembers her friend Meril from this time and
reflects on the void her lost life created. The silent hotel, the swamp surrounding the
city, packages of used hormone pills, dilators to widen and deepen the new vagina,
make-up – all depicted in a condition between life and death.
The English word engender can be understood as develop or create and this exhibition
portrays a process, but it also asks questions about how the process of becoming
interacts with memory and oblivion, dreams and disappointments. As viewers we are
invited into an intimate room and become involved in the transition, the mental and
physical journey from boy to woman. Victoria wants to shed light on her and her friend
Meril’s struggles on the periphery of society and “bring to light what still remains in a
destructive oblivion”. However, this process also contains an amount of ambivalence
between wanting to show and still hide. The different identities merge, but they can never
be completely coherent. In the poem Wild Iris the author Louise Glück writes: “whatever
returns from oblivion returns to find a voice”.

- Rebecka Wigh Abrahamsson, curator Uppsala Art Museum

Spectral Gaze
Video, 20 minutes, 2021

Spectral Gaze is a journey in time, and the search
for a lost friend. Victoria Verseau and Meril met
when they were about to undergo gender con-
firmation surgery in Thailand. They comforted

each other in this very uncertain time. Three
years after the operation Meril decided to end
her life. A few years later Victoria travelled back
to the town where they met, hoping that she
could capture the memories of Meril with her
camera, but instead she found a void. The
people she knew were all gone, only the familiar
landscape, buildings and vegetation remained.
Repressed memories return as ghosts in a
dissolved condition between life and death.

5,6,7,8,9 inches 12,14,16,18,20 centimeters
Sculpture in acrystal, 2019–

The usage of dilators is a part of a life-long
treatment after gender confirmation surgery,
to prevent the new vagina from narrowing.
Victoria Verseau has transformed this repetitive
practice into a sculptural project. The work
poses questions about penetration as a sexual
norm, and if the vagina is a precondition for
woman as sign, but it also reveals the sacrifice
that comes with transition. The casts in acrystal
are slowly added one at a time into an ever-
growing monument.

Dissolved monument
Sculpture in fabric, jesmonite and neon,

The dual work Dissolved monument is a fossili-
sation of an H&M-jacket, a dear memory to
the artist of intense happiness and hopes for
the future that didn’t last long. The physical
object is just an empty shell, shown with neon
line drawings. Verseau examines how memory
actively recreates the image of a self and its

5,6,7,8,9 inches 12,14,16,18,20
centimeters, fluorescent
Sculpture in acrystal with fluorescent colour
pigment, UV-lamp, 2021–

A repeated trauma. The relentless death.
The search for Meril’s ghost has taken the artist
to different places, from club dancefloors to
remote landscapes where unusual light
phenomena may be registered. This new series
of dilators cast with fluorescent colour pigment
invites to various associations, ranging from
dark escape attempts to playfulness.