51 géneros (51 genders) is another introspection into the performance Tengo tiempo / I have time, which Benlloch performed in 1994. This was a work that looked into the social and cultural mechanisms that build both the conventions around which sexual identity is organised and hierarchization. On screen the performer undresses slowly. As he takes his clothes off, he presents himself to us representing different social roles determined by the clothes: construction worker´s coveralls, an executive´s impeccable suit, etc. The performance instances a reflection about appearances and the symbolic reach of social masks.
How much are we able to tell from a person´s clothes? How important do we think clothes are? 51 géneros is an action that asks after these and many other such questions related to social stereotypes and constructions.
The artist reads in the voice-over a fragment of No soy lesbiana (I am not a lesbian), by Terre Thaemlitz. This is a text about the deconstruction of true identities that include sexuality and gender, which shows how sexual identity – and sometimes gender-, is something that we learn and that we inherit, something completely separate from the sexual acts themselves. In short, this is a text that subverts and questions categorical thinking about sexuality and identity: homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual.
Miguel Benlloch has been working for years at the crossroads between aesthetics, politics and gender. The cuban artist José Angel Toirac wrote:“ the work of Miguel Benlloch leads to the concept of identity as a mobile process and so he is fascinated by the word transexual, because prior to anything else, this word refers to sexuality as a space to/of transit.” 51 géneros is directly linked to previous research work on the field, as the video insists on the dissolution of concepts that generate collective norms of coercive behaviour, and proposes the radical presence of individuality in a different time of common non-regulated practices.
51 géneros was made in Arteleku (Donostia) as part of the project Desacuerdos. Mutaciones del feminismo. Genealogía y prácticas artísticas (Disagreements. Mutations of feminism. Genealogy and art practices). Coordinated by Erreakzioak, María José Belbel and Beatriz Preciado.