Artist Keith Murray will take the adage “love yourself” to new heights on Aug 2 when he will marry his masculine and feminine sides in a quickie ceremony.
This performance art piece is part of a larger collection of his work, entitled Trannylicious Dishez, debuting at the grand opening of Las Vegas’ Erotic Heritage Museum.
Murray, 25, cites his home city as a steady source of inspiration, particularly its history and heritage.
“I am a fourth-generation Calgarian — a lot of my work is a gender-bending re-writing of history,” he says. “I like the idea of posing an alternate queer version that reflects what’s going on today.”
One of the pieces in the show is a video installation called Cowboi. It was the artist’s reaction to the Calgary Stampede and former Alberta premier Ralph Klein’s swaggering attempt to thwart gay marriage legislation in the province. Gallery audiences will see a dancing half-naked cowboy in a video monitor placed on top of bales of pink hay.
However the piece that attracted the museum’s attention was a recent video called DIY: Do It Yourself. Murray describes the piece as G-rated porno — it shows him getting down with his better half — his drag self — and having sex.
“The video is really an act of love,” Murray explains. “DIY is interesting because in society there is such an emphasis on relationships and finding another to make yourself complete. That might be beautiful and romantic… but you need to be whole as an individual first. This is where my own philosophy, transreality, breaks into my work.”
Central to Murray’s philosophy is finding an internal balance between the masculine and feminine within us. The fact that he has a show opening in Vegas, gave Murray the inspiration for a Sin City time-honoured tradition — a quick wedding officiated by an Elvis impersonator.
“I’m going to honour the holy union of my masculine and feminine selves. I will be in half man, half woman drag walking down the aisle,” he says. “I’ve already got my outfit together — showgirl, hot pink, bridal wear meets nice man with top hat.”
The bride/bridegroom gets asked the inevitable question: why marriage?
“Gay marriage has been such a big issue in Canada,” answers Murray. “It has been great for a lot of people, but my marriage is all about wholeness. There are a lot of young queers who have not made it to that comfortable suburban place.”
He hopes audiences will react to his work by looking inside themselves, perhaps a little deeper than before, to find those parts they may not be comfortable with.
“We need space for being visibly queer,” he says.
To that end, Murray’s wedding will be one big queer space, with a girlfriend from Calgary accompanying him as best man. Also slated to be in attendance are the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a troop of drag nuns from San Francisco.
“You can’t go to Vegas without an Elvis wedding,” he says. “It’s the King marrying the Queen!”