Marla Bendini is a transgender performance artist, club personality, musician, pole and aerial artist based in Singapore. Her trans identity and practice are profoundly interrelated. She created her persona in 2007 as an amalgamation between art and life, to explore multiple liminal identities and fluidity in perspectives. It was also to explore how the trans body allows one to occupy a new artistic space and challenge current understandings of identity.
She took on the name “Marla” after the female protagonist from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club when she was working on “Fight Club – A Chorus”, a 2007 live theatre production loosely based on the novel.
Her multidisciplinary approach towards this amalgamation has become a signature form of hypervisibilty, using the existing politicized body as a catalyst and vehicle for further discourse. She seeks to both engage and disarm audiences and to bridge the present to what she envisions to be an inevitable trans/post-human condition.
Working in an array of artistic media, Bendini articulates the infinitely faceted trans experience through art, music and performance – on her own terms. Her multi- and inter-disciplinary approach forms the bridge between the audience and her, provoking discussions about social structures, gender constructs and the spectrum of sexuality.
An example of Bendini's musical work is “Red Sky”, a track from her album “Tracks” comprising improvised live recordings of experimental guzheng and dan tranh, voice and site-specific ambient sounds: https://soundcloud.com/user-423514524/red-sky
Her first self-titled exhibition "Marla" (2008) was presented in a transsexual bar in Pattaya, Thailand. Sponsored by Fridae.com, Asia’s largest LGBT portal, she presented "Conversations between father and son" (2010), a multimedia installation-performance supported by The Substation Gallery, Singapore. Since then, she has been very active in Singapore’s queer and cultural scene, organising and participating in numerous group exhibitions and performance art festivals such as "Future of Imagination" and "R.I.T.E.S".
Her 2015 solo exhibition "I’m Nervous", presented by Grey Projects, was organised in conjunction with the 10th edition of IndigNation, Singapore’s longest running LGBT festival.
She has performed and exhibited in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau, Sweden, Spain and the United States of America.
- Ng Yi-Sheng, "Marla Bendini", Fridae, 19 May 2010.
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This article was written by Roy Tan.