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Art exhibition highlights difficulties facing LGBT South Asians on the eve of Diwali

Joe Williams November 10, 2015
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‘Asian Future’ will coincide with the upcoming Festival of Lights.

Challenging perceptions of Asian LGBTQI identities, ‘Asian Future’ offers a rare glimpse into a world where gender, sexuality and religion are defiant bedfellows.

It forms part of the 8th GFEST – Gaywise FESTIVAL, London’s multi-discipline LGBT arts festival – along with film, live performance, and a programme of debates and Q&As.

“GFEST’s exhibition exploring Asian LGBTQI identities coincides with Diwali, the festival of lights,” says GFEST’s artistic director Niranjan Kamatkar.

“It couldn’t be more apt, because darkness most definitely needs to be banished from the lives of every LGBTQI Asian around the world, and particularly in India – where it can still be ‘a criminal offence’ if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual.”

‘Asian Future’ will feature the work of legendary artist, writer and activist Sunil Gupta, renowned for his honest portrayal of gay life around the world, including his native India where practicing homosexuality is essentially illegal.

The exhibition will present a series of his photographs that explore moments from South Asian Queer life sketches.

Also on display are photographs by Charan Singh, a visual artist informed by years of community activism and HIV/AIDS work in India.

Focusing on marginalised people, his “Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others” series of photographs depict different communities of men with their own sexual identities, from eunuchs to transvestites.

Interactive artist Maya Chowdhry – in collaboration with poet Sarah Hymas – presents poetic sculptures that explore the fragility of life and anthropogenic climate change.

These works are guest curated by Michael Petry. Another guest curator Simon Tarrant presents work by two relatively younger London-based artists whose work contemplates gendered South Asian queer identity.

Raju Rage combines film installation with image collage to question and deconstruct gender, sexuality and religion.

Trained as a weaver at Chelsea College Of Art, Raisa Kabir questions the politics of dress in connection to space, gender, race and sexuality.

Diwali, the Hindu and Sikh festival of lights, takes place this year on Wednesday 11 November. GFEST’s visual art exhibition ASIAN FUTURE runs from now until Saturday 14 November.

The 8th GFEST – Gaywise FESTival continues until 21 November, with other highlights including two days of LGBTQI films at ArtHouse Crouch End (17 – 18 November) and an evening of classical music at St Pancras Parish Church raising funds for, and awareness of, the ‘relatively silent’ world of gay composers and gay music (20 November) including works by Sainte Colombe, Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc and newly commissioned work by contemporary composers including Nico Muhly.

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PinkNews is proud to support GFEST 2015.

Related topics: art, Asia, diwali, GFEST, India, LGBT

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