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Cassils: Human Measure


Cassils is a transgender visual artist who makes their own body the material and protagonist of their performances. Working in live performance, sculpture, photography, sound design and film, Cassils contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and power.

For Cassils, performance is a form of social sculpture: drawing from the idea that bodies are formed in relation to forces of power and social expectations, their work investigates historical contexts to examine the present moment.

Referencing conceptualism, feminism, and body art, Cassils powerfully trains their body for different performative purposes, committing to a process of extreme physical and psychological endurance. By positioning their body as a battleground, it is with sweat, blood, and sinew that Cassils shares experiences for contemplating histories of violence, representation, struggle, and survival.

Curated by Bren O’Callaghan for HOME, Manchester, Human Measure will be Cassils’ first UK solo exhibition and a 10-year survey at a critical moment for advocacy.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the world premiere of Cassils’ first piece of contemporary dance, Human Measure (2021). A collaboration with choreographer Jasmine Albuquerque, who has worked with the likes of St Vincent, Devandra Banhart, Laura Marling and Mike Mills, the performance will draw upon personal safety, vulnerability and problematises visibility in a moment of heightened violence against the GNC/Trans community.

Open call

This announcement is accompanied by an open call for five UK-based, transgender, gender non conforming and non-binary professional dancers, who will join Cassils and Albuquerque for a deep dive, two-week rehearsal process culminating in the premiere, both for in-person audiences and streamed online. This call is to everyone. We particularly welcome applications from Black and ethnically diverse candidates.

Events and response

An artist advisory group of trans and non-binary creatives have engaged in dialogue upon the occasion to devise a range of public-facing responses. Chester Tenneson and Zorian Clayton will shape a series of critical and creative essays, including contributions by Dominic Johnson (Professor of Performance and Visual Culture, Queen Mary University, London), and Libro Levi Bridgeman (Hotpencil Press).

Filmmaker Campbell X will curate a film series that celebrates trans/non-binary joy and desire, combating the filmic trope of the transgender victim. Kate O’Donnell, founder of Manchester-based art organisation Trans Creative, will be in conversation with Cassils and curator Bren O’Callaghan, while UK-based Zimbabwean writer and performer mandla rae will explore ritual and remembrance with a performative assembly.

Details of these events will be announced shortly.


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Human Measure was developed with the support of the Paul D. Fleck Fellowship residency at Banff Centre, and with support from Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, initiated by Carol A. Stakenas and Jacqueline Bell. 

With additional thanks to Canadian Stage for their continued support.