Eccentric Technologies: Be Heintzman Hope and the Trans-of-Color Workout Video

When and Where

Thursday, February 01, 2024 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Deluxe Screening Room, IN-222E
Innis College
2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Dahlia Li


This talk critically examines how and why contemporary trans-of-color subjects might prioritize aesthetic, rather than medical, technologies for articulating trans embodiments. Through an analysis of Canadian Asian artist Be Heintzman Hope’s 2021 queer workout video “Poetics to Activate the Technology of the Body,” I develop a trans-of-color intervention, and expansion, of Cáel Keegan’s call to theorize a “trans point of reception for popular media.” By focusing on the trans-of-color deconstruction and reproduction of cinematic technologies operative in Hope’s video, I demonstrate how the need to enunciate embodied being at the convergence of racial difference and gender non-conformity requires eccentric mobilizations of both the history of race and the history of audiovisual culture. Refusing both the authority of the clinic’s medical gaze and the presumed white-centricity of trans-ness, this talk seeks to illuminate the cultural archives, artistic practices, and theories of the technological through which different horizons for trans politics becomes urgently perceptible.

Dahlia Li (she/her) is an artist and scholar of performance, cinema, diaspora, and gender. She is currently at work on a book project entitled Caress Without Body: Queer Diasporic Movements and Questions Concerning Technology that explores how the staging of the queer diasporic body in 20th and 21st-century across screen, stage, and stanza challenge the representational economies of race and aesthetic form. Through a range of moving image art works, archival material, and performance ethnographies, this scholarly monograph analyzes the dancing body of color as it mediates colonial logics of space, pace, and scale.  

She has published in the edited collection Dance in US Popular Culture (2023) and The Monument Lab Bulletin and currently has in-progress scholarly articles on dance-on-film released during the covid pandemic like the queer workout videos of Be Heintzman Hope and Steve McQueen’s Lover’s Rock (2020). She works as Jaamil Olawale Kosoko's dramaturg and edited their recent volume of collected poems and critical essays Black Body Amnesia: Poems and Other Speech Acts (2022). Since 2020 she has run the "Dance and Poetics" series through the Kelly Writer's House.  

Her current art projects include a hybrid text and performance project entitled A De-gendered voluptuousness and a collaborative research-based art project on queer embodiment and global urban spaces with Emilio Martinez Poppe and Sophie Kovel. She has performed in, created works, and taught artist’s workshops across venues in North America and Europe like ponder0sa, The 2022 TanzKongress and the Venice Biennale, and is currently artist faculty for the emergeNYC program in New York. She has previously taught at CUNY, Princeton University and University of the Arts' Dance MFA where she was on the curatorial team for The School for Temporary Liveness Vol 2.0.  

She graduated summa cum laude in English from Princeton University in 2014 with certificates from the Center for African American Studies as well as the Center for American Studies. From 2014-2016 she was a Marshall Scholar in London where she received an MA in Writing in the Modern Age from Queen Mary, University of London and a practice-based MA in Performance Making from Goldsmiths, University of London. From 2022-2023 she was a Helena Rubenstein Critical Studies Fellow through the Whitney ISP. 

Contact Information


Cinema Studies Institute, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies


2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5