Interview : Andy Silveira (Aks, Reflections of Queer Hyderabad)

Undeterred by media misrepresentation and pressure from the so-called moral police, a group of young individuals are getting ready to showcase Queer Lifestyle by exploring multiple mediums of Art (photography, painting, drawing, installation, sculpture, video, etc.)

Aks – Reflections of Queer Hyderabad is first of it’s kind in the city and one hope’s it would inspire many more to embrace their sexuality without fear and hesitation. Here’s a quick chat with Andy Silveira, one of the key role player behind upcoming show.

aksTell us about the Team behind Aks. Is the Team a part of some NGO supporting the Queer cause or just a bunch of individuals who decided to come together for this particular event?

Well, the team behind Aks is a group of individuals in Hyderabad who have come together to make this event happen. Those who comprise this group are students from universities and young professionals. Some individuals used to meet regularly as part of a group called Prathibimb, which was an e-zine for a year, while some others used to meet as part of another group called Expressions. However, ever since we’ve decided to go ahead with Aks, we’ve got in touch with a number of enthusiastic individuals who have become a part of the team. Most of us are interested in doing something about sexuality or queerness; some with a zing for activism, others for fun.

Where most Queer groups decide to go ahead with Queer Film Screenings, Plays, Music shows, etc…then why an Art show? That too depending on the local Queer folk for contribution.

We were of the opinion that we would rather attempt an activity where we all would enjoy creating something. That’s when we thought of a queer art show. Art is medium through which we express ourselves, and we wanted to do precisely that.

While we were in search of a suitable venue, we checked out few places in the city which might want to host the show. We got in touch with Alliance Francaise, Hyderabad, and decided to organize a film screening at their venue. Together with Kashish Mumbai Queer Film Festival, we had a screening of the Kashish 2010, documentaries and narratives. Through the film screening and the art show, we want to encourage local participation as much as possible. We want to create an amicable platform where the queer voices of the city would be heard.

You have openly invited art of sexual imagery. Don’t you think it could further enforce the already tainted perception that Homosexuality simply revolves around “The Act of Sex” and is a Western Concept?

Though homosexuality does not revolve around “the act of sex,” sex is an indelible aspect of it. One thing that makes us comfortable in each other’s presence is the fact that we can put our guard down and be comfortable sharing our own experiences of who we are and how we understand ourselves. I disagree with such a naive and binary perception that homosexuality is a western concept. Though the term came into discourse only few decades ago, men having sex with men and women having sex with women were there everywhere. Our own temples and sacred texts testify to such homosocial and homosexual behaviour without politicizing it.

How has the response been so far in terms of Contribution? Has it been limited to just Queers or Straights have volunteered as well?

A number of people have got in touch with us. And we have got in touch with a few. The response has been fairly good in terms of contributions. Some people on the team do not identify as queer and are willing to help in any way they can. The whole process of working on this project has been exciting and one doesn’t have to be on either the Queer or the Straight camp, to enjoy it.

Not too long ago we had the infamous TV9 episode in Hyderabad. Aren’t you worried about chances of similar misrepresentation by the local Media? Any measures taken by the Team to avoid such incidents?

Yes, the fear of misrepresentation by the local media is like a sword of Damocles above us. Fortunately, we have a few friends in the media who have been in touch with Prathibimb, which has a google group where most of us are connected online, and they are aware of the sensitivity to such an issue. Some of us are studying and working and are not out about our sexual orientation, hence any misrepresentation is risky. In order to avoid any media problems, we’ve ensured that photography would not be permitted in the venue. Should the print media want any images, we would provide them with the same. However, for our own documentation, we would have an individual who would click a few pictures.

It’s not just Art, you also have an Open Mic session planned…basically a day long event. Do you plan on making it a regular thing?

As of now, we are crossing our fingers and hoping that all would go well. We aren’t sure what to expect. The reason that we wanted to have the Open Mic session, was to include as many people who would want to contribute to this event either through a photo, poem, song or a facial expression. Depending on how this event pulls off, we’d take a call on future events in Hyderabad.


[Event Details : FB Page]

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Now 30, 100% shudh desi lesbian. Likes living large, and on the edge. Dislikes stagnation, fence sitting and hypocrites. Lives in a bubble of joy, with occasional lapses into drama queendom. Currently nursing a massive crush on actress Chitrangada Singh (kind of eerie, her resemblance to the late Smita Patil, don’t you think?). Aspires to build a fully functional support system for the Gaysi community in India. And most importantly, top the 'Hottest eligible desi-lezzie' list one bright sunny day.

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