Courtesy of the artist
James Chantry is an artist, researcher and socially engaged arts worker. James has exhibited internationally, predominantly working in drawing, animation, film, photography and installation. He is currently undertaking a PhD by practice in Fine Art at De Montfort University, Leicester and is Arts Development Manager at Charnwood Arts, Loughborough.
Expecting is part of a body of work exploring queer identity and the supernatural. Throughout folklore, literature and film there are often coded themes of queer reproduction and alternative communities: from the 18th century mock birth rituals in Molly Houses, with gender-transgressive male spirit mediums and their ectoplasmic manifestations, to male pregnancies in alien-dominated science fiction worlds.
In this new work James references A True Story by Lucian of Samosata, a text written in the second century AD. It is thought to be the first work of science fiction. In the text, Lucian describes a community of men, living on the moon, who grow offspring from trees made of skin and also give birth through their thighs. During the Covid-19 lockdown James began to consider communities that are outside of the normal, on the fringes of society, and contemplated a utopian queer futurity that aligns with that of feminist futurists such as Shulamith Firestone. Alternate models of non-heteronormative community, reproduction and, in turn, work and labour revealed themselves through this ancient text.
The artwork itself is a form of reproduction; the source image was from low quality ephemera - embryonic - from which a detailed drawing was formed. Animation and the GIF are representative of life and biological function.