Outside the Lines of Gender: FearlesslyFRIDA in Indonesia
‘I am as you are.’
It’s begun: #ColoringOutsideTheLines and creating art that is both fierce and fearless! #FearlesslyFRIDA began its global art tour with Transvoice, a young feminist group based out of Bogor in West Java whose mission is to empower the transwoman community by raising awareness about their rights. The Fearless Collective and Transvoice began with a workshop to get to know each, their art and their activism. Three days, countless permission and one rain storm later – they started painting and sharing their art on the streets of Bogor! Now their incredible public art and posters are all over the city sharing their message of fearlessness and pride.
Catch all the action by following this photo essay below:
Transvoice is a community organization set up by a young transwoman activist Alexa. Transvoice helps the community in accessing information and services related to health, legal protection and economic empowerment etc. Transvoice dreams of building a hair and beauty salon as a place to provide skills to members and as a business unit of organization for sustainability. In Bogor, Fearless Collective met with Transvoice community members in a participative storytelling workshop themed ‘Outside the Lines of Gender’.
For the transgender community in Bogor, sex work, street singing and hair salons are a primary source of income. In an intimate workshop, The Fearless Collective used the symbol of hair to go deeper into our own journeys with gender exploration. Each one of us sat in front of a mirror and slowly began combing out our hair, using this daily ritual as a portal to stories of fearless personal transformation and challenging gender binaries.
Each individual story was visualized in the form of a poster – each poster with a personal affirmation from the community members. The posters were pasted in streets around the neighborhood where most of the community members work – reclaiming spaces we inhabit – internal as well as external
Team members of The Fearless Collective along with Transvoice community members went in search for a wall to paint the first public representation of transgender in Bogor. Owners of buildings wanted to know what was exactly going to be painted. One of them said, ‘you can’t paint anything sexy, anti-religion or provocative’. After days of seeking permissions and evading bribes, Transvoice community members were finally able to convince a garage owner to paint the outer wall of his garage.
On discussing how they would like to represent themselves for the first time in public space in all of indonesia, the community conjured up an image that was both sensual but also strong. A transwoman lying down, owning her space. Finding ourselves in a place that was neither masculine, nor feminine nor androgynous, but integrated. Complete. A larger discussion around the visual began, for centuries the male gaze has been upon the classical image of the woman lying upon a bed, especially vintage depictions of courtesans. What if we could reclaim that position as a poise of power?
Interestingly, the image that was created went up at night, a time when the bustling market becomes into the workspace of members from the community who are involved in sex work. The painting team was joined by amazing artists from Jakarta. Weaving batik into the mural, the artists showed their acceptance and support to the transgender community – as part of us all. Simply wanting to be safe, respected, to be able to create beauty and experience love – are not essentially gendered needs/desires. We all want them equally and painting it together was a manifestation of that equality.
In an alley across a mosque an image of a transgender woman peers out. Lying on a bed of long hair as if taking control of her own gender identity, the image embodies both the masculine and the feminine, simultaneously sensual and strong. Reclaiming the classical body language of feminine representations, but with shoulders wide, rough stubbled chin and tattooed chest. She says “Aku Adalah Kamu”, I am as you are.
© All art by Shilo Shiv Suleman, Nida Mushtaq and members of Transvoice. Photography by Fabrice Bourgelle a.k.a. Photography by Focus.Captions by The Fearless Collective team. For more pictures and detailed storytelling, check out this Facebook album by The Fearless Collective.
Outside the Lines of Gender is part of the #FearlesslyFRIDA initiative. The Fearless Collective is on a beautiful mission to paint the world with fierce and fearless colors as they collaborate with FRIDA and some of our grantee partners. Learn more about the global art tour of the #FearlesslyFRIDA partnership.
FearlesslyFRIDA is an initiative to encourage artivism into the young feminist movement. Would you like to be a part of this gorgeousness? Learn more about how you can participate by sending posters of how you have been #coloringoutsidethelines.