09/10 «Pride without prejudice»: a discussion with Álvaro Laiz, "TRANSMONGOLIAN" exhibition author and Anaraa Nyamdorj, Mongolian queer man of trans experience
19:00 / loft COM.NATA, Obvodny kanal embankment, 136
Let’s find out from a photographer, a European and cisgender person, what prompted him to make a project at the junction of two marginal for wider society topics: Mongolia’s culture and transgender people’s lives. We will also talk about how these projects can help transgender people from Mongolia and all over the world and what they can show cisgender people and Europeans, especially those people, who know nothing about either Mongolia and transgenderness.
Racism and colonialism are embedded in our culture and our thinking. We, members of dominant cultures, often view underrepresented cultures, peoples, practices, and communities as exotic. Major part of Europeans (including Russians) does not know much beyond Mongolia and its culture, and majority of cis people is unfamiliar with real transgender people’s lives. One of the examples of «friendly colonialism» (which includes «friendly racism») are fetishization and exoticization of minority cultures' members. For instance, going on touristic «safaris» — paying money to observe «how real Mongols live» (or other nations), even if it is understandable that this is artificially created tourist-oriented entertainment. This kind of exoticization is not infrequently faced to both transgender people and any other social minorities' members. In the post-colonial and patriarchal world minorities have much less power, resources and representation and, no doubt, those who have more resources, «call the tune». How can this resource be consciously and responsibly disposed of? How can we support socially vulnerable and underrepresented groups, showing interest in them without exoticization?
Russia is a multinational country and there are LGBTQ+ people of a variety of cultures and origins. However, both aggressive and friendly racism/nationalism is not uncommon even in our community. Russian LGBTQ+ activism mostly represent Russians. In comparison, members of the different ethnical groups, where human variety is valuable, often face aggression and mockery… or fetishization itself. It would seem that it is not complicated for a minority member to understand, support and show solidarity to another minorities' members. Why there are so many obstacles? Why LGBTQ+ sphere has such strong xenophobia? How can we help our community become inclusive to people of different origin and cultures? What needs to be done to make people of different cultural and ethnic background not feel like strangers? How can we become the community with pride and without prejudice?
Anaraa Nyamdorj is a Mongolian queer man of trans experience who has worked on LGBTI rights since 1997. His human rights research and community-based participatory advocacy have been invaluable to push for the normalisation of the LGBTI rights discourse in Mongolia. The international and domestic human rights awards-winning organisation, LGBT Centre, of which he is a co-founder, first Chair and former Executive Director, achieved several historical legislative changes at the national level as well as opening of social spaces that were previously inaccessible to LGBTI people through international and domestic advocacy efforts.
Anaraa fled Mongolia in 2018 following imminent death threats and sought refuge in the Netherlands where he continues to pursue his engagement with artistic expression to further articulate and embody his life philosophy of equality and dignity for all.
Álvaro Laiz (born in 1981) is multi-skilled artist working with photography, text, sound and installation. He successfully combines traditional culture, nature and industrial development in his works.
His works (from photographs to large-scale video installations) are presented in public and private collections, such as the Madrid Museum of America and INELCOM Foundation, curated by Vicente Todoli. The artist has also exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Val-de-Marne (MAC / VAL) in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and Leon (MUSAC), etc. Editorial clients include National Geographic, New York Times, Traveler, Forbes. Since 2017 Alvaro has been a National Geographic researcher.