13th February 2017 | 24/7
The Mask of Intersex
The artist Ela Xora is going on a hunger strike whilst lying naked next to a telephone in a “performance art piece” and says she will start the performance on Monday and not get up until she has received a call from her agent to say that national hero Paula Radcliffe has apologised on social media regarding comments she made about intersex gold medal winner Caster Semenya for saying that the runner should either undergo surgery on their genitals or be banned from competing in sport, says the artist in an open letter posted by her on her website and tweets posted to Paula. The artist says the exhibition is an extension to her recent exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum in the University of Oxford. The exhibition contains an exclusive half hour recording from Stephen Fry which was premiered to academians in Oxford, about the lives of intersex people like supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele who has made headlines around the world recently because she has become the first openly intersex model. The model was born with both male and female sex organs having both a vagina and testes. According to human rights charities like Amnesty International, biologically intersex people who have a combination of sexual organs are as common as people born with red hair.
Ela Xora, a mask maker and artist from London is holding the hunger strike in an East London art gallery on Monday 13th February and has held many celebrity attended exhibitions publicly supported by the likes of Ian Mckellen, Graham Norton and Kurt Cobains ex Courtney Love, as well as being sculpted lying naked already by celebrity sculptress Frances Segelman who has sculpted a wide range of A listers from Joanna Lumley to the Royal Family
An open letter to Paula Radcliffe
My name is Ela Xora I am an artist from London and I would like to inform you about my next exhibition The Mask of Intersex because it is a collaboration with Stephen Fry…and you…
This performance is my most Marina Abramovich inspired “risk taking” performance to date, lying naked on the floor of an art gallery with only a telephone next to me. I will not move from there or eat anything until I have received a call on the phone next to me from my mother to tell me that you have apologised to Intersex UK AND UKIA, as well as intersex people in the UK and around the world for saying publicly last year repeatedly at the Rio Olympics that Caster Semenya and other biologically intersex people should “take the medication to suppress the levels…have an operation or they choose not to compete”. Your comments hurt so many intersex people, their families and their friends including me. I do not believe that intersex people like Caster have two choices, as much as there are not only two choices of gender born in nature. I will not awaken if you do not prompt me to do so with your public support for equal rights for intersex people in the UK.
As I prove in my current art exhibition The Mask of Intersex which recently premiered in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford as a collaboration with Stephen Fry, intersex people are not a new phenomenon that is only being talked about now because of Caster Semenya or supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele, or the tireless and heroic work of intersex organisations like Intersex UK and UKIA that I am a member of. As I also prove in the exhibition, intersex people have been the constant victims of twisted myths and institutionalised abuses that are well documented in classics particularly, leading in no small way to their existence and human rights being “masked” in Western culture, for thousands of years to the present day, including their participation in competitive sport throughout the ages.
I appreciate that perhaps you made the comments under pressure and without a proper education on the subject, but I would ask you now to please think about your 2 choice statement and rebirth your comments by supporting Stephen Fry, Ian Mckellen, Graham Norton, Frances Segelman, Courtney Love, Intersex UK, UKIA, intersex media personalities like Sarah Graham, Dawn Vago, Holly Greenberry, Suz Temko, Joe Holliday, Dr Jay Hayes -Light and myself in helping intersex people compete in sport and live their lives with dignity and equality, in the bodies they are born into, not forcing them to subject intimate parts of their healthy body to risky cosmetic surgery, so that they are not bullied and forced to leave the sporting arena, if that is their choice. Sport must be for all Paula, please take a step away from the Olympic bubble now that the dust has settled and think “is it really fair to support only these 2 extreme options” and not support the third option of letting intersex people compete as themselves if thats what they want, forcing them into very painful, very risky and very humiliating surgeries that “fix them” so that they are allowed to continue competing behind a binary mask. As Caster proves intersex bodies are often talented, able and gifted. If they are born with intersex biology, then why is it fair to not recognise them as neither solely male or female, but as intersex in the middle if that is the way nature made them?
I have always been a huge fan of yours, believe it or not despite having written you this open letter. I greatly admire your dedication, determination and drive, particularly congratulating you on your huge and historic achievements in sport. I am simply asking that you put yourself in Caster, or any other intersex persons shoes when you were competing and consider how horrible it must be to have people saying that you should be excluded from sport, because there is no category for you or others like you even though you biologically exist. Is there really no room for them to be given the same rights to compete with healthy, successful intersex bodies like that of Caster or other intersex athletes in history like Stella Walsh also abused and continually treated like the “unicorn in the room”. Yet intersex people are not as rare as doctors have claimed historically, they are not a one in a million rarity, intersex babies are actually born as frequently as those born with red hair, for example.
So I ask you again please, could you consider the fact that your 2 choices for intersex people in sport are going from unnecessary extreme to extreme and that if nature creates intersex people that are neither wholly biologically male or female, then they should have the right to compete as intersex.
In light of all of this, would you now be so kind as to wake me up from this hunger strike performance and apologise simply by signing our petition for the UK government to announce an Intersex Equality Inquiry, launched recently by Stephen Fry and Ian Mckellen (the first two people in the UK to sign it). I will only wake up from this cold, naked, sleeping position on the floor when my mother sees an acknowledgement from you on twitter that intersex people should have equal human rights within law in the UK, including the right to participate in sport and not be disqualified or made to cut their bodies up to fit the culturally blinkered myth that only two black and white genders are born and have the right to exist or compete in sport.
We all sometimes say things in haste. We have all been conditioned to believe certain myths which are not necessarily biologically accurate. But we must all have the right to live in peace with the bodies we are born into and not be bullied or abused for the appearance of our body.
Please will you now be a catalyst for the equal human rights and respect in our society of biologically intersex people and not let me die during this “Wake Up Call” performance?
Date: 13th February 2017 - 14th February 2017