American Boys and FemmeSpace, Qulture Collective
Qulture Collective & Qcc present
American Boys and FemmeSpace
Qulture Collective, 6pm
Exhibition through July
Two photographers’ focused on queer communities: Soraya Zaman’s new book and project, American Boys and a selection from the late Amanda Harris’ FemmeSpace. Although each of these projects was birthed for a different reason, together they bring a vision of the breadth of the Trans, non-binary and gender non conforming communities rising.
American Boys Project
Zaman traveled coast-to-coast to chronicle a range of presentation of transmasculine identity across the U.S. In small towns and big cities alike, people sat for Zaman’s lens in the comfort of their environments: Elias in the light of his window, Shane crossing a Los Angeles street, Amari resting near train tracks, Aodhàn in a field of sunflowers, Steve climbing high onto rocks, and so many more.
The book offers a window into an admittedly limited slice of American transmasculinity. As Zaman mentions, not everyone, some of their subjects included, has interest in or access to surgery and/or testosterone; for the purposes of the book the hormone is only mentioned to frame the passage of time, and to be honest about the fact that their subjects may look different now than when first photographed. “I do hope that if trans and non-binary people buy this book and can’t ‘see’ themselves in any of the images, that they can find shared experience in the stories,” Zaman said.
Transmasculity does not necessarily mean that her subjects identify as trans men. Zaman explained, "Because transgender is an umbrella term, it can be imprecise and does not always describe specific identities and experiences. Transmasculine is a general, broader term for individuals who were (AFAB) Assigned Female at Birth but identify closer to the masculine (or male) side of the gender spectrum.”
With a camera as their singular companion, Zaman traveled to Cairo, Mongolia, and beyond. Upon realizing their lens could help them find the power in their own complex identity, the Australian-born creative moved to New York and began working for various brands as a fashion photographer.
Three years ago, Zaman decided to dig a little deeper and investigate something highly personal to them: gender expression and the experience of being trans or non-binary. “There was shared commonality in a lot of the stories that I would hear about trans people growing up, and there was also a lack of transmasculine representation in media,” they say now.
In 2016, they began connecting with people on Instagram and saving up money so they could travel and document the stories of transmasculine individuals from across the United States.
The self-funded project — which brought Zaman to 29 different cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Hollywood, and Seattle was recently released.
Zaman aimed to showcase the diverse spectrum of transmasculine experiences, and enlisted each subject to pen a personal reflection on their experience in being trans, which ultimately puts humanity and tenderness front and center. It was also important to Zaman to highlight and support people who didn’t necessarily live in cities like New York or Los Angeles, or other cities considered “queer hubs.”
Femmespace is a photo project exploring queer femme identity and reclamation of space. Queer femmes of all genders choose locations and co-conspire with photographer, Amanda Arkansassy Harris to reclaim sites of marginalization, erasure and invisibility through portraiture. femmespace exists to draw attention to the experiences of queer femmes and amplify our stories in art and media. For the purposes of this exhibition, we are showing only 7 of the 30 beautiful images; those we chose identified as trans, gender non-conforming or non-binary.
Amanda Arkansassy Harris was a queer high femme charmer from the South. She was the co- curator of Y'all Come Back: Stories of Queer Southern Migration in the 2015 National Queer Arts Festival, where she exhibited portraits in her EXODUS series.
Her photographs have been published in Glitter & Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Galaxy, G.R.I.T.S.: An Anthology of Southern Queer Womyn's Voices, Towards the “Other” America: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter, as well as various online sources including Al Jazeera America. She believed in the future of the femme oligarchy and the power of portraits to tell stories.