i.Zora Neale Hurston says that the “great artist,” specifically the “Negro dancer,” is great because of their “realistic suggestion,” citing that “every posture gives the impression that the dancer will do much more.” Less skilled dancers, she argues, complete movements therefore eradicating the imaginative potential of implication. Similarly, psychiatrists regard people with “gender dysphoria,” which they use as synonymous with transgender and non-binary, as paying heightened attention to “affective appraisals” of their gender, measuring the subject’s “illness” by the degree to which they fail or succeed in being legible to others. Even language that attempts to affirm us suggests failure: “identifies as,” “goes by,” “preferred pronouns.”
ii.You should raise your soul to the following idea: we are certain, absolutely certain of what we are saying (without this being certainty in the slightest, in the sense that you habitually understand it), and at the same time, at the same instant, completely deprived of all security...—Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy
iii.If you mention our existence in meat space*, any number of people will likely disregard us as belonging to or being a primary producer of “that Tumblr shit.” I spent the summer exhausted by such language and “affective appraisals” that litter the public domain. This produced a desire to put in conversation black trans and non-binary people whose work uniquely occupies and travels through digital space, troubling the myth that we only exist online, and frivolously so. The series is, like its introduction, a contradiction in that it’s both about and against the hyper-focus on black queer & trans bodies, about and against the idea that our lexicon, criticisms, work and very beings are reduced to Internet fodder. I trust the contradiction and its movement as these documentarians, photographers, poets and entrepreneurs consider the potential of an extensive visual archive of black trans men, the critique as a means of production, geography and archival loss.
Come in, come in.
*I borrow this phrase from Manuel Arturo Abreu’s essay “Transtrender: A Meditation on Gender As A Racial Construct.”
Curated by L. G. Parker