For this month’s Insider Newsletter, focusing on Pride, we asked visual poet and activist Haneem Christian to write an open letter exploring their feelings and thoughts surrounding this Pride month.
“Pride Month has been a month of deep celebration, introspection and remembering for me. It is usually the month I am most still, remembering why I do what I do and who made it possible for someone like me to be able to speak my truths the way I do. It’s been a time of nurturing my roots, watering myself and those around me and reaching deep into my memories of the future.
This month has called me to seek all that was left behind by those who paved the way for our community, specifically the black trans women. I am reminded that nothing exists in the isolation of time, everything from the past carries over and informs parts of in the now. I have been called to take a breather from the production side of creating and rather lean into research and exploring the black and brown queer and trans archives, as photographs hold memories and stories that might have never been spoken about or included in written histories. I am filled with so much gratitude this month in acknowledging all that has been offered, sacrificed and created for hundreds of years so that people like me, could come into existence and share my truth.
My work is an interdimensional conversation between myself and my ancestors. I understand my practice as a means to explore myself and my community, beyond the boundaries placed on us via binary language, the constraints of the telling of history, and the burden of lost/erased archive. I have come to fully understand through the teachings of my mentors, of flesh and of spirit, that photography is a tool for time travel. That there are worlds and lifetimes within one image and that is an invaluable tool as we reimagine our world.
In my gratitude of the abundance surrounding me, I am acknowledging all the work that still needs to be done and what role I play in all of that, and that duty is incredibly humbling.”
Haneem Christian, represented by Ebony/Curated, is a visual poet and activist, born and raised in Grassy Park in Cape Town. Christian graduated in Gender Studies and Environmental and Geographical Sciences from the University of Cape Town. After graduating, Christian forged their way as a creative director and photographer, with a particular focus on representation within the Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ community. In February 2020, Christian delivered a body of work with NON-Worldwide at the Institution of Contemporary Art after being named one of four mentors for The Orms Mentorship Program and an ongoing mentor for young artists in the Lalela Project. Christian is now firmly committed to creating curricula for students who use art as a means of education and emancipation. Bubblegum Club Magazine 2019 states, “Haneem is one of the leading forces of the South African future.”