For the first time ever, a queer art exhibition was held at the Gauhati Artist’s Guild. 19 artists from five states showcased their work capturing the rainbow hues of the queer community. Pranati Sinha reports
Love is everyone’s right. With the very idea of sex still a huge taboo in our society, the lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community is grappling with long-suppressed anxiety and depression.
However, after the Supreme Court in a historic verdict decriminalised Section 377 of the IPC, there has been a surge of events across the country focused on the LGBTQ community using different forms and means to express and discuss their presence in the society.
In one such move for the first time ever, an art exhibition challenging the status quo and breaking free from the dominant stereotypes was held at the Gauhati Artist’s Guild, Chandmari in Guwahati. The exhibition is a brainchild of Xomonnoy, a Guwahati-based intersectional queer feminist group, aiming to create an awareness of the queer culture and the queer movement through the medium of art.
The new group exhibition allowed a much-needed sneak-peak into the world of the queer community while celebrating the hues of love, desires and despair. The diverse works span paintings and photographs. The three-day exhibition titled ‘CanQueer’ kick-started from May 16th, 2019.
Canvas and Queer
“We have named the exhibition ‘CanQueer’ as it is an amalgamation of two words – Canvas and Queer which rhymes with the word ‘Conquer’. The exhibition is aimed at conquering the canvas for the queer community to represent themselves in the world,” said Prakash Das, a core member of Xomonnoy.
He added, “The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is globally celebrated across the globe on every May 17th but it has never been celebrated in Assam. We thought of celebrating the day by organising an art exhibition dedicated to the queer community.”
Das shared that for the debut exhibition, the footfall was “satisfactory”. “People are responding gradually. More than 50 people visited the exhibition on the first day. For the exhibition, we received funds and support from across the country. In the coming days, we will take up social activities to aware the society about the LGBTQ+ community,” added Das. The Xomonnoy was formed on November 1st, 2018 and at present, it has seven members.
Riot of colours, desires
The visual art exhibition saw the participation of a total of 19 artists hailing from Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Tripura. A total of 29 paintings and photographs were displayed at the exhibition.
A painting titled ‘Desire and Despair’ by Kolkata artist called Rudra Kishore Mandal was hugely appreciated. “My painting depicts how the society censors the desires within us. When I wanted to wear a skirt, I immediately killed my desire worrying that society will judge me. Suppressing one’s desires lead to self-destruction. So, desire and despair go hand in hand,” Mandal said.
Another painting that caught the attention was by Farnaaz Islam, an art teacher at the Gauhati Artist’s Guild. The artwork titled ‘Stars Under Their Feet’ speaks about two lady lovers. “This painting speaks about two lovers who are sitting at a rock with their feet immersed in a river in a starlit sky. The stars are reflecting in the river and it is a moment of bliss and blessing for the two lovers,” Islam shared.