Queering SWANA - Visions from Women and Non-Binary Artists

Queering SWANA - Visions from Women and Non-Binary Artists

To claim SWANA (Southwest Asia, North Africa), a decolonial word for the “Middle Eastern” identity, is a practice in reframing Western narratives rooted in racism. This perspective looks beyond our borders and into cultural fluidity, allowing for the exploration of our regional customs outside of language or religion. To be a part of SWANA is to be a part of a cultural alliance that transcends textbook ethnic definitions. It is more than drinking the same tea and hanging evil eyes above our doors. It is to recognize the strength in defying categorization while taking pride in our individual identities.

The works in this exhibition capture the complex intersection of SWANA and queer identities. They celebrate sexual liberation, affirm the journey toward one’s self, defy colonial values, and attempt to identify the previously unidentified gray areas. They explore current realities – war, land occupation, misogyny, trans/homophobia– and dare to suggest alternative ones, looking to ancestral resilience to shape stronger futures.

I am thankful to the contributing artists and filmmakers who are diligently reframing our narratives and helping to create worlds with intersecting SWANA identities at the forefront. Beyond this curation of works, countless creatives take part in restructuring the SWANA framework. I ask that you pay attention to them all.

- Mara Tatevosian, Guest Curator: Queering SWANA - Visions from Women and Non-Binary Artists

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Queering SWANA - Visions from Women and Non-Binary Artists
  • Introduction: Guest Curator Mara Tatevosian

    Mara Tatevosian (she/her/hers) is a queer Armenian-Iranian-American filmmaker and curator based in Los Angeles. With hopes to use cinema exhibition as a tool to dismantle heteropatriarchal, white-centric structures, she has joined the programming teams of several queer film festivals within the l...

  • Queering SWANA: Requiem for Past, Ode to Future

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    Learning to grow past generational trauma is a laborious task and this series of films is a guide to self-discovery beyond ancestral pain and cultural expectation. Amongst the films, you will find ceremonial tributes to our foremothers, acts of queer defiance, and a plea for cross-cultural commun...

  • Queering SWANA: Habibis, Habibtis, etc.

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    Forbidden love is no foreign concept to the queer community, especially the queer communities within SWANA. Habibis, Habibtis, etc. is dedicated to those who have been pushed into loving on the margins, under the guise of “friendship” and behind closed doors. Although grappling with cultural reje...

  • "Gut Feelings: Fragments of Truth" by Katayoun Jalilipour

    ‘Gut Feelings’ is a multiple-part project inspired by the lives of historical figures during the Qajar era in Iran (1785-1925), such as Tāj al-Saltaneh (1884 – 1936), a member of Qajar dynasty and feminist activist who, in the internet era and digital world, is misrepresented and the subject of r...