The Morlocks: Heroes From The Underground

 

The Myth Becomes Us

By: Tom Barranca

As a child, I remember there was a time when I thought having super-powers was a possibility. Even now in my adulthood (a term I use lightly), I occasionally find myself in a moment of pure laziness, attempting to levitate my iPhone telekinetically, still holding out hope that imagination can in fact cross over into my reality.”

During childhood we’re told

super-heroes do not exist

no one is special, magic isn’t real

(gender is binary)

Mutants are just made up characters on a page.

 

Growing up queer

we began to see a mirror image

     ourselves

                      inside the characters.

Because we too

      felt different.

We understood reality as presenting

      an alter ego.

We understood queerness made others uncomfortable,

so like our mythical heroes,

we wore costumes

      and hid,

waiting

beneath the radar.

 

Today, these stories that helped write us

are being re-written

in real life.

New identities are constantly being created

and explored

publicly,

for the world to see.

 

Like the Mutants of the stories we grew up with,

there are those of us

who cannot hide from the world any longer.

There are those who no longer seek assimilation,

but rather,

radical individualization.  

 

These are the Morlocks:

mutants once forced to live underground

in fear of the outside world.

 

No longer do they hide,

no longer are they powerless.

Instead

they have created a voice

a place

a platform,

for themselves

and those alike.

With the expression of truest self,

and the exploration of genetic magic,

they are each working

to shape the world around them

into something

that holds space

for all of us,

not just a select few.

Reminding us that

We are all super humans

and all is simply

matter of perception.

 


Photography: Ariele Max | Creative Direction: Giancarlo Corbacho | Production Assistants: Tiffany Pilgrim, Brian Whatever, Ursula Mann

Aurel Haize Odogbo || Marrow

Haize wears kia top by Ytinifninfinity, harness by NAC Equipment, foam electirical wire leggings by RHLS, and platforms by LACTIC

What is your power?

My art is my obsession and gives me the ability to create mythological/fantastical narratives, bodies, and worlds in my head while allowing them to manifest in reality.

Do you feel that your power is informed by your queerness (i.e. identity, sexual identity, gender identity) or those who you surround yourself with?

Absolutely. Most of my work is about my trans identity but I often skew “trans” away from transgender and make it about feeling trans human, trans mutative, transcendent, etc. My queerness/body and my art are linked because I don’t differentiate my creative process in how it applies to creating myself (transitioning) from how I make my work, it’s all informed by the need to embody or create something that I know doesn’t already exist for me. I often times refer to myself as a monster and what I mean by that is yeah, my body is almost always creating some sort of chaos when I’m out in the world because I’m really tall, black, and visibly trans. I have a 5 foot braid hanging from the back of my head that looks like a tail, so people are either really repulsed by my appearance or really attracted to it. I’m monstrous also in the sense that I often experience a lot of isolation in the social and creative circles that I’m a part of and so I have to create my own world/body to live in via my imagination and I project all of that into the real.

What drives you to create?

My dissatisfaction with the paradigms that exist for a black trans femme like myself to exist in. if it’s not here then you need to create it for yourself in the most honest way possible because no one else can or will.

 


Ben Ross Davis / Night Helix || Caliban

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Ben wears sliced pink neoprene top, shorts, and belts by Sext Pixels, harness by NAC Equipment

What is your power?

I feel like it is a thing that just kind of grows, like if you were to grow another leg or another arm or wings or you get louder…you grow another eyeball. I don’t know, so in that sense my art is …growth expression.

What drives you to create?

I think it depends on the project, but generally speaking, usually when I’m making something I have to make it to get to the next day or the next week or the next stage in my life because it’s something inside that…is like eating. I couldn’t live unless I had something to eat; I have to create in order to be, to breathe; it’s something that grows and will overtake me until I acknowledge or address it, so there’s nothing else I can do until I take care of that urge.

Do you feel your power is informed by your queerness?

Yes, of course. I think naturally it’s an obvious influence in my work because it’s a part of me, a giant part of me, and it’s something that I’m very proud of. I think it’s cool that I naturally feel this way, or that I was in a way, given this.

Does it feel like a superpower?

Totally. I want to plug it in, charge it, make it bigger, stronger, and louder. I think the queer artists that have come before me, especially in New York, have helped shape me. If I hadn’t read their books or seen the things that they did, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. So in a way I feel like I’ve been passed the torch, and I’m glad I got it.

 


Mister Wallace || Tar Baby

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Wallace wears cropped jacket from the Styled by Phil archive, vest and pants by Whatever 21, drip bracelet by I Still Love You NYC, and shoes by SAGA NYC

What is your power?

My medium is performance and that manifests in many different ways. I’m in a rap group called Banjee Report, I do solo work under the moniker Mister Wallace, and I just started DJing as well. I view DJing as a form of performance. I like to have a narrative and dance and move behind the decks, but it’s also about bringing in certain sounds and telling a story with those sounds that actually involves making the people move as part of the performance.

When you are creating or writing what do you feel drives you to create?

My biggest inspiration is myself (laughs) but like really my story. So growing up I felt ugly, I felt unloved, unwanted, wrong. I grew up in a Christian household, so ideas of being queer and things like that were very negatively reinforced. I didn’t like my body; I didn’t feel masculine, I felt very skinny and frail, like girls or weak, or that’s what I was taught that looked like… and so my inspiration is to tell a new narrative – that being feminine or being skinny is actually a form of power and it should be empowering not only to women, but really to anyone. So that’s what inspires me to tell my story and to create art because I want kids growing up to be able to identify with that idea and be strong and be excited.

And so wouldn’t you say in some way that you are a superhero?

Oh yeah, when I was a kid I always knew I had powers. And everyday I’m just trying to figure out how to use them and how to make them stronger.

Were there any superheroes you identified with as a kid?

Really I love villains because I feel like a lot of them are misunderstood and then those misunderstandings kind of get inbred and that’s why they go down this dark path. I mean, that’s the whole thing with the Morlocks…they’re viewed as bad guys, but they’re really not. They are just misunderstood and different.

Don’t you feel like that is in a way a symbol of queerness? This idea of being misunderstood?

Yeah, I mean queerness is vilified in a lot of ways. Growing up, all of the movies with the flamboyant gay black man, my cousins would always be like, “Oh, that’s you,” and I always felt bad about that, like “I don’t want to be like that villain.” But then, at the end of the day, I realized as I grew older that it was bad to not want to be something that is actually similar to what you really are. I realized I had to embrace that behavior and embrace my differences, so that other people could learn to embrace them as well. That’s also why I really love villains, especially the ones who are in your face because they’re just saying, “This is me, this is who I am.”

 


Untitled Queen || Tommy

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Untitled wears jumpsuit, vest, and pants by SAGA NYC, biforamen by TILLYandWILLIAM, and model’s own shoes

What is your power?

My art has always been some form of sad magic. Summoning a mix of the unexpected, the poetic, the stupid, and a rainbow of colors.

What Morlock are you representing?

Tommy.

Have you thought about any connection you might have to this character?

Tommy’s power is the ability to transform her body into a 2-dimensional plane to the point of becoming as thin as paper. This ability is very similar to Untitled Queen as a type of art object that moves fluidly between drawing, sculpture, and performance. I think coincidentally her story would be the exact version of me if I was made into a comic book character: a pastel rainbow of hair and skin, ability to stand out and shrink invisibly, and dead within one issue.

What drives you to create?

There’s something in here about wanting to tell a story and in my own way. Sometimes I know I’ve put the wrong colors together, but I’m comforted in my ownership of the ugly pairings, because it is mine. And I’ve been fascinated by that Native American idea of a photograph stealing a part of your soul, because I sort of run the opposite way. I’m splicing it up and emptying it out every chance I get.


Logan Jardine || Leech

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Logan wears stylist’s own hat and shoes, crop top and bomber by Ytinifninfinity, briefs by 2(X)IST, and jeggings by Whatever 21

What is your power?

I’m a doctor and I spend a lot of time talking to people and developing intimate relationships with strangers. I’m also trans and queer, which I consider to be a superpower.

Do you identify with the character you’re representing?

I’m conflicted about Leech. I like that he is a Morlock, an outcast among outcasts and that he is so resilient. Somehow he always manages to escape capture and he survives the Morlock killings. He is small and childlike and I think often underestimated. I can relate to that.

I don’t identify with Leech’s power. Leech’s power of negating other mutants’ abilities feels like the opposite of who I aspire to be and the spaces I desire to build and be a part of.

 


Third || Callisto

callisto a

Third wears stylist’s own eyepatch, chaptop and sleeves by TILLYandWILLIAM, leather bustier by J. Papa, lingerie and whip from the Styled by Phil archive, pants by DAIMORF, and model’s own shoes

What is your power?

I make gender neutral clothes.

Do you feel that your power is informed by your queerness (i.e. identity, sexual identity, gender identity) or those who you surround yourself with?

Yes – my process parallels the goal: to destabilize notions of clothing that are gendered and historicized. The premise of gender neutral is to honor all points of the spectrum. The promise of reinventing fashion is to realize clothing and style as in between, never puristic and always queer.

What drives you to create?

I make clothes to appease a lot of my anxieties pertaining to art that is introspective, deconstructed, and self-experienced.

This feature was originally published in our second print edition, available for purchase at posturemag-shop.com

 

Posture Magazine
Posture Magazine

Posture is a queer-run art and fashion magazine that features the most brilliant and rebellious creators of our time.