Theo "The" Kehler

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Theo “The” Kehler

Saccharine, Act I: Reckoning // Act II: Catharsis

2023 // 2024

2D animation and video // video


Saccharine is a long-running project made of multiple iterations, made over the course of three years. It combines a photograph series Saccharine: Sacrifice, a sculpture Saccharine: Constrained, and a short film made of two parts Saccharine Act I: Reckoning and Saccharine Act II: Catharsis. The project started as a photographic series of self portraiture in 2022. Each iteration explores different aspects of the artist’s personal experiences as a recovering people pleaser. The project touches on themes of conformity, idealization of false icons, gender, queerness, purity culture, and self expression.

Saccharine: Sacrifice

Theo “The” Kehler

Saccharine, Sacrifice

2022 // 2024

archival inkjet prints

11×16 in

Saccharine: Sacrifice is the title of a set of nine photographs, formally installed in the shape of a cross. The first of the images shown above is from the proto-iteration of the project made in 2022. Paired with the eight other images in this set, made in 2024, the old photograph is given new life by showing a progression not only in time, but also personal growth. The title represents the rectification that these accompanying images provide the younger, vulnerable self.

Saccharine: Reckoning // Catharsis

Saccharine Act I: Reckoning is a video work made in 2023 using a projection of a rotoscope animation which functioned as a meditation on how people pleasing was negatively impacting the artist’s life. Saccharine Act II: Catharsis was made in 2024 and functioned as a response to reflecting on the first act. Catharsis was the second attempt to use the imagery of ambiguous pink fluid flowing out of the artist’s orifices to communicate an expulsion of self-destructive behaviors which had led to the suppression of their feelings, wants, and needs in order to serve others.

Saccharine: Constrained

Theo “The” Kehler

Saccharine, Constrained


Mannequin torso, cellophane, pink duct tape, and fx gelatin

Saccharine: Constrained is a sculpture coming from a need for a more tactile medium than photography, to express the visceral, bodily experience of feeling constrained by a false self created to please the world. Due to the autobiographical nature of this work the artist considers even the sculpture as a work of self portraiture. The sculpture was later used in the photo set Saccharine: Sacrifice and the film Saccharine Act I: Reckoning // Act II: Catharsis.

Saccharine’s themes, color palette, and iconic imagery are linked to the artist’s relationship with their femininity, exploring how they interact with the world as a queer, trans-masculine, non-binary person. The work plays into the wider themes of the artist’s practice, exploring the complexities of identity and the difficulties of learning how to love yourself as you are.

Other Works From the Artist

Theo "The" Kehler

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Theo Kehler, or “The”, is an interdisciplinary lens-based artist working out of Vancouver, BC. Their practice explores themes of queerness, sexuality, self representation, community, self love, and intimacy. Their work consists largely of conceptual studio-based, staged still lives and portraiture. They also work in sculpture, drawing, mixed media, installation, and film making.

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