Being⟵ ongoing portrait project
Being is a visual and written manifesto that re-imagines the concepts of power and beauty, reclaiming the space and narrative of individuals that have been too long overlooked in our collective representation.
This is an ongoing project, self published first in 2020 with a digital platform containing over 20 portraits, a print fundraiser to support the work of three New York based organizations working with LGBTQIA+ youth and an urban intervention consisting of 7 large scale murals in the West Village in New York City; Its second iteration was in 2021 with 20 new portraits, and an urban gallery of 10 framed photographs exhibited in the windows of old stores of the West Village.
Both phases of the project were published alongside a manifesto by Anista Tavangar in 2020 and by Jezz Chung in 2021.
Still in its making, this project aims to be a manifestation of the imposible, a vision of a future we long for.
We are the embodiment of a new history— a history renewed by reclamation and documenta- tion.
We are history. By being, we manifest the impossible.
The blueprint left before us by those we honor charts a path of internal struggle. But through the energy of our ancestors and the promise of liberation, we shape-shift into truth, declare through glamour, and cultivate collective power. We create history today as we make mistakes, unlearn and relearn, grow outward, reach inward, love wholly, and stand in our power.
Every roar and every kindness sends ripples through narratives of conformity.
Power springs forth from the femme, the fluid, the fortuitous, the fighting, the free, the forgot- ten.
We bear the torch for those who will come after us, from those who came before us. We fuel our- selves to feed others. We are seeds planted in rich soil, growing in the cupped palms of ancestors, spirits, survivors, lovers, and friends.
When we draw equally from the same strong vibration, we feel power.
Our beauty is adorned in jewels. It is embraced in the ocean, covered, safe, and whole. It is na- ked, languid, alone, and safe. Sometimes, it is difficult. Sometimes, it is an absence of beauty. But always, it is kind. Our beauty brings us into a space of nourishment where we can share life with one another.
Our history will be told in stories of thriving. Collective healing, self determination, reparations, and redistribution will wash over the fears that block truth. We will mend each wound burst open by dichotomies.
But creating our history requires cultivating the imagination to see power as something new.
Imagine a power that is Black and queer. Imagine a power that is communal. Imagine a power that nurtures beauty and knowledge. This is the power we create today.
by Anisa Tavangar, 2020
Part 1, June 2020.
Part 2, June 2021
Beauty is here.
Beauty is happening.
Beauty is blooming past the boundaries of what we’ve been taught to believe.
Beauty is not asking for permission— it is celebrating a declaration.
Because beauty is anything we make of it.
Beauty exists within anyone who claims it.
Beauty is a legacy, an ancestry woven from the tapestry of our lineage.
Beauty is a belonging— to ourselves, to our diaspora, to our deepest desires.
Beauty is trans. Beauty is masc. Beauty is femme. Beauty is non-binary. Beauty is always in evolution— a discovery and a discovering of who we’ve always been without the noise.
Beauty flows in an intimate rhythm, when we feel at home in our bodies, when we enjoy being alive.
Beauty happens when we receive reflections from our chosen family.
How beautiful it is to feel it, to feel the joy radiating within, among, around the vessels that hold us.
And when we recognize beauty, we allow ourselves to feel a way forward.
Because the future we envision is happening now. We have the capacity to embody our ideal reality. To conceive it, to live it, to become it.
We are creating a future that is abundant, where we collectively care for the earth and for each other.
A future where we learn our histories, lead with love, and ensure that our trans and gender non-conforming siblings can live safely in the fullness of their beings.
A future where care is continuous, where violence ends, where we protect each other without the police.
A future that is accessible to everyone, where disability and dwarfism are seen as beautiful.
A future where we are less interested in labels and categories and more interested in embracing our differences.
A future with less shame and more self-love, less perfection and more expression, less pain and more healing.
This future is possible. This future is here. This future is waiting for you, if you’re willing to step into its possibility.
by Jezz Chung