Not Yet Here

by Adrien Crossman

Exhibition Statement:

Not Yet Here is a solo exhibition of new works by Adrien Crossman that investigates notions of safety and visibility through the colour safety orange, asking: how do we balance the desire to feel truly seen with the real threat of violence resulting from being visible in the wrong context? Reflecting on normative binary systems that police and regulate the categories of gender and sex, the works consider legibility in relation to gender markers, such as the gender-neutral ‘x’ that is now available on some forms of government issued ID. Incorporating the high visibility hue known for its use in traffic cones and hunting and construction gear, Not Yet Here questions how the colour of safety orange may relate to the idea of a ‘safer space’, highlighting the tension between safety and visibility, and asking who is being protected.

X, written by Adrienne Crossman:


No gender, no future, no problem

                                                What is it inside nature that turns a color into danger?[1]

They say that beauty grows in darkness

What is it that grows here?

I wear this colour(collar) to feel safe, 

                                                                                                to feel 

is it narcissism or self care? (I’m not sure what the difference is)

I used to think I was transphobic, then I realized



hate                                                                                                  myself

Is self-loathing a kink?

Gender reveal death drive party.

Billy Ray Belcourt speaks of suicide as a form of resistance

loneliness as an estrangement from the present

what if depression was a shared affect that could bring us together?[2]

Gay as in ‘happy’, queer as in abolish the police.

‘x’ marks the symbolism of progress

To don an ‘x’ on government issued ID under the header of ‘sex’

why go to the trouble?

a third option that points not to a gender, but to 

the absence 

of binary legibility  

leaving little room for the permeable borders

soft edges that encase / protect these categories of gender and sex[3]

An East coast insurance company decided to charge ‘gender x’ clients the same rates as 

women, rather than men. 

Is this progress?

‘X’ can indicate privacy 

‘X’ can be a form of outing

How do you read me? 

how is my queerness read? my gender?

how do the markers shift?

what is legible, intelligible?

Freedom within restraint

the indexes of my body: 

                                                                                                                   a collar(colour) previously worn

               a harness

clamps intended to cause sensation attached to grafted skin that can no longer feel

to form connection between numbness

my imprint on your skin

Jacob Hale refers to SM as ‘gender technology’[4]

Bondage and bandage 

bound atop a wound

How much of who I am has been formed by shame? By navigating around it, looking away, 

transforming its meaning, denying, transmuting it.

How much of who I am is based on who I have tried so hard not to be?

I realized that fucking was 

                                                                  an escape 

a pathway to briefly be outside of this world, this shame
to have my body and desires 

not only validated, 

                               but celebrated

something that feels akin to survival

but that’s a lot of pressure to put onto another person

There’s an analogy about a blazing fire in a room behind closed doors – neglected, contained. 

Like trauma, the door must be opened to begin extinguishing it. Opening the door lets in a rush

of oxygen, feeding the flames. 

The threat, the pain, becomes much more acute once faced head on.  

Blaze Orange; Hazard Orange; Hunter Orange; Luminous Orange

‘DANGER DUE TO __________’

                                                                             ‘END TRANSPHOBIA’

                                                                                                                                                ‘___________ AHEAD’

A warning sign

reflects or shifts
your image back

“There seems to be a kind of spiral shape to these trajectories of identity”[5]

To be seen by you (K)

before I could wholly see myself

to be loved and recognized 

for exactly who I am

to never be easy

to be loved and appreciated even more so



Identity affirmed through relation

formed by community

I realize that my desires and feelings of safety are rooted less in an attraction to a specific

gender, rather a proximity to queerness – read: distance from heterosexuality. 

‘X’ marks a location

in between two polarities

‘X’ marks the absence of fixed identity

An engraved message
a takeaway
something soft

A harbinger of hope

that tells us 

to exist 

is enough
to hold us here

               You said your aura is orange and I said it feels like you. Orange is a color I don’t 

               know very well but it does really suit you. Sweet and brazen. Safety color.[6]

[1] Pico, Tommy. Nature Poem. Tin House Books, 2017. 

[2] Billy Ray Belcourt in conversation with Ann Cvetkovich. “Feminist Futures in A Time of Pandemic: Loneliness and the Affective Life of Settler Colonialism”, hosted by Carleton University. 11 Feb. 2021.

[3] Hale, C. Jacob. “Leatherdyke Boys and Their Daddies: How to Have Sex without Women or Men.” Social Text, no.

[4] Ibid

[5] Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “A Response to C. Jacob Hale.” Social Text, no. 52/53, 1997, p. 237-239 

[6] Zornado , Clara, and Jo Barchi. “Correspondence on Erotics and Karaoke Rooms.” We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, edited by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel, Nightboat Books, New York, 2021. 

Artist Biography:

Adrien Crossman (they/them) is a queer and non-binary white settler artist, educator, and curator currently residing on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples in Hamilton, Ontario. They hold an MFA in Visual Art from the University of Windsor (2018), and a BFA in Integrated Media with a Minor in Digital and Media Studies from OCAD University (2012). Crossman is interested in the affective qualities of queerness, investigating how queerness can be felt through specific aesthetics and sensibilities. Their work is deeply enmeshed with their queer and trans identity and is attentive to the ways that white supremacy and colonization have shaped dominant understandings of gender and sexuality. Their practice seeks to destabilize these systemic ideas and speculate on more expansive alternatives. In addition to having exhibited across Canada and internationally, Adrien co-founded and co-runs the online arts publication Off Centre and is an Assistant Professor in the School of the Arts at McMaster University.

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