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Exhibition in the Van Abbe Museum by photographer Dustin Thierry and ASCA PhD Wigbertson Julian Isenia


What does it mean to be queer and black in the Netherlands? And in the ‘former’  Dutch colonies? Moreover, in what ways do black lesbians, gays, bisexual,  and transgenders give meaning to their sexual and gender identity? Be it in style, language, dance or in other cultural practices? These questions are raised in the project by photographer Dustin Thierry and cultural anthropologist Wigbertson Julian Isenia. The project by Dustin Thierry and Wigbertson Julian Isenia explores the answers to these questions. The exhibition of this project takes place in the People’s Parliament of Rojava in the Van Abbemuseum.

Through this long-term project, photographer Dustin Thierry and cultural anthropologist Wigbertson Julian Isenia aim to build a living archive of feelings, gender expressions, and sexual identities of the different Black Queer subcultures in the Netherlands and the ‘former’ Dutch colonies.

This first, partial, fragmentary and ongoing sketch of two of these subcultures, aims to showcase the vitality and longevity of the black queer community. Declining to put these subjects on a pedestal, idolizing them and denying their flaws, they seek to explore - as professor Marlon M. Bailey argues - how gender expressions and self-identification can "create ways to survive an often dangerously homophobic, transphobic and femmephobic public sphere."

Many of the portraits depict active participants of the ballroom culture. A culture that actively resists the dominating cultural norms of society and provides a place, albeit temporarily, to question conventional heteronormative gender roles and identities.  

The project has been acknowledged and supported by The Decade Innovation Award, an initiative by the Dutch ministry to strengthen the tackling of racism and to improve the position of people of African descent.

Wigbertson Julian Isenia | Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis | University of Amsterdam | Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, NL - 1012 CP Amsterdam | |