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Rafael Medina Showcases Trans Beauty in Brazil
As a part of qEXHIBITIONS programme run by queerANarchive, an exhibition of Transbrasil by Rafael Medina is opening at Klub Kocka Gallery, Youth Center, Split, Croatia. The series of analog and double-exposure photographs are intimate and affectionate portraits of trans women in Brazil, not leaving behind the photographer's experience of visiting his hometown after a long exile and a commentary on the current social and political situation in Brazil. The exhibition is curated by Daniela Labra and it can be viewed from August 27 to September 5, 2021
Summary: Series of images taken in 2020 of 5 trans women living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Naomi, Ellie, Catarina, Galba e Williane, close friends of the photographer, are portrayed in intimate places and situations, each one with their own particularity, avoiding cliches of trans/queer life. In Transbrasil the images are the result of a nostalgic and familiar sight that impregnates the present images with affective memories and remembrance.
Rafael answered a few questions about how the images were produced: "The photos are actually shot with a 35mm analog camera and I use a double exposure on film technique. Which means that I use the same film roll several times to give this layered aspect. That's not made digitally."
The series of pictures shows characters that transitioned in a moment of reaffirmation of the LGBTQIA in Brazil, a counterpoint of the several cases of censorship, persecution and extermination of trans people in the country. Even though the exhibition is built on affections and the personal relationship between the photographer and his friends, it doesn't leave aside it's political sense, that comes not from the activist point of view, but from the artist and friend. As the feminist movement since the 1960s says, "the personal is political".
* Vernissage, Friday, 27 August - 21h, Club Kocka Gallery, Dom mladih, Ulica slobode 28, Split, Croatia
* Artist's talk, Wednesday, 1 September 20h, Prostor, Planciceva 2, Split, Croatia
* Exhibition, Friday, 27 August - 5 September, by appointment, Club Kocka Gallery, Dom mladih, Ulica slobode 28, Split, Croatia
Bio: Rafael Medina is a Brazilian photographer based in Berlin. He earned a BA in Philosophy at UERJ and studied Visual Arts at Eav-Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. He documents nightlife and portraits LGBTQI people focusing on sexuality and body positivity. Medina has participated in group exhibitions such as Uncensored and DISCOnstruction. In 2017, had his first solo ''Skin Deep'' at the Village in Berlin. Back in Brazil he was also the Founder and creative director of the online magazine and sex party FLSH.
He is currently participating in the group exhibition "Intimacy: Queer art from Berlin and Beyond" at the Schwules Museum in Berlin and in the recently released book New Queer Photography.
qEXHIBITIONS is a program run by collective queerANarchive that opens queer discourse in the town of Split. Since 2010 queerANarchive works as a collective that develops, researches and questions queer culture. Its curatorial and educational programs deal with particularities of queer culture at the time of LGBT normalisation and re-traditionalization of society.
At international level the collective participated at Queer Art Lab Space ID Madrid, Madrid (2013), Activist in Residence at Baltic Art Center, Visby (2014), Young Queer Europe (2015 - 2016) and conferences Unstraight Museum Conference, Stockholm (2016), Organ Vida, Zagreb (2017) and Queering Memory ALMS Conference, Berlin (2019).
The collective is a member of Youth Center Platform, Platform Clubture and LGBT center Split platform.
Contact: Tonci Kranjcevic Batalic / email@example.com / +385921009999
Web: queerANarchive.hr; dom-mladih.org
From the curator, Daniela Labra
This delicate series of analog and double-exposure photographs on negative shows the personal experiences, sensations and affections of Rafael Medina on his first visit to his hometown, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, after four years living in Berlin, Germany. Perceiving himself back in the nest as a son and also a foreigner, Medina developed this work moved by the strangeness that this perception caused him: "It feels like I was there yesterday and at the same time I never was".
"Vertigo" is what he reports having felt when he once again saw the past landscapes and places of his life, and also his friends who were once presented as cisgender men and, in the course of a short time, became women. Friends also with each other, Naomi, Ellie, Catarina, Galba and Williane are photographed in intimate spaces and situations, each one with their own particularities and avoiding supposed cliches of trans lives. In Transbrasil, the images result from a nostalgic and familiar look that imprints in the photograph the past in the present, affective memories between remembrances and novelties.
Before moving to Germany, still in Brazil, Rafael Medina was active in Rio's underground queer cultural scene, photographing events, organizing parties, and editing a body positive naked men's magazine. In this series of photographs, he focus in the visibility of transgender people beyond exoticism or labels. With his knowledgeable gaze stripped of prejudice, the photographer comes to insert himself in the photos as the visitor, confident and author that he is. At the same time, the size of the photographic prints with nostalgic textures gives the viewer an immersive idea of closeness. And yet, a more intimate experience occurs in handling the vintage photo album available to the public, with other portraits from the series in a smaller format.
Besides the time transition, the photographs show subjects and bodies that transitioned in a moment of LGBTQIA+ reaffirmation in Brazil, countering countless cases of censorship, persecution, and extermination of people from this group. This exhibition, built on affections, does not leave its political background -- which does not arise from the activist's point of view but from that of the artist, friend and accomplice, who confidently portrays the models in their own territories.
This photographic series makes in its title a reference to Brazilian trans women and, by chance, also to a Brazilian airline company of the same name and surprising rainbow logo, which went bankrupt in the 2000s. Observing the conservative and retrograde wave in the country's politics since the current government's election in 2018, the radical "trans" and the colorful acronym would probably not pass today as corporate air transport branding for a national company.
Transbrasil can be read as an irony with Brazil's regression of political, social and civil discourses. Still, it also indicates the new path by the LGBTQIA+ movement today, especially in Rio de Janeiro, which is still resisting. Despite the pandemic and violence unleashed on trans people, in recent years, many have felt confident and comfortable to come out and re-signify their identities, strengthening and weaving networks of affection, support and life point of views. Transbrasil is about that.