Transtopia: Explorations in Architecture, Painting, Comics & Trans Femme Aesthetics — Bishakh Som

Bishakh will present work that traces a trajectory from her early experiments in comics, through to her academic studies in interior design and architecture, following on with contributions to various queer comics anthologies, investigations into architecturally-themed watercolor paintings and in 2020, the publication of two graphic novels: Apsara Engine and Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir.

Bishakh is an Indian-American trans femme visual artist. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, We’re Still Here (The first all-trans comics anthology), Beyond, vol. 2, The Strumpet, The Boston Review, Black Warrior Review, VICE, The Brooklyn Rail, Buzzfeed, Ink Brick, The Huffington Post, The Graphic Canon vol. 3 and Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. She received the Xeric grant in 2003 for her comics collection Angel. Her graphic novel Apsara Engine is out now from The Feminist Press and her graphic memoir Spellbound has been published by Street Noise Books. Bishakh has illustrated two books about architecture: The Prefab Bathroom: An Architectural History, published by McFarland Press, and Cocktails and Conversations: Dialogues on Architectural Design, published by AIA New York.

Response-able Re-membering

The hyphenation to shift the stress of response-able in The Faggots & Their Friends…* was a big deal for me. This afternoon is linked to a reading group where we’ve been looking at various texts, pictures, and drawings as bodily extensions that shift the stresses. Writers and artists that take familiar architectures, (arbitrary) rules, garments, and objects to demonstrate how malleable and expansive our surroundings already are. Making astute social observations, framing beauty, and re-claiming histories, so we re-member (all the parts of) ourselves. Let’s cite historic resource controls and exploitations as amongst the reasons why we would need to write and make pictures to re-member. Economic pushes, educational pulls. Oceans, lies, thefts, and then to top it all off being gawped at. The load redistributes and the aunties and our other families laugh so much, and slap our backs, and push us back out there into more stories. Noisy recipes full of those unspeakable things, teary squishy embraces, jewellery, and fabrics. We re-member how (many) we are and how (many) we have been.

Please join us in welcoming Alberto García del Castillo, Vava Dudu, and Bishakh Som to share their thoughts, pictures, and work.

*The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions is a 1977 ‘fairytale-cum-manifesto’ (Jennifer Krasinski) written by Larry Mitchell, with illustrations by Ned Asta. The 2019 reissue features a preface by Tourmaline in which she describes how resonant the passage about being response-able was for her.