In a world that feels bleak, it is important not to accustom ourselves to living without the hope that we can build a better future.
At Transpose: The Future (Barbican Centre, 6th-8th Dec), a collection of trans artists come together to explore how this could be done, through mediums ranging from opera to electronica and poetry.
The past year has seemed rather short on celebrations – the rising strength of the far right, the threat of Brexit, a dark cloud seems to hang over much of the political world. As an artist I feel a moral imperative to create – to tell my story, to hear our stories, to reach out internationally and build a true sense of solidarity. I want to do this work, because this is a time in which marginalised people should build communities. It is important that we have each other’s backs while we’re fighting what feels like a rising tide of intolerance, from the racism fuelled by the Brexit vote to the disablism enforced alongside austerity.
The disabled community knows well that telling long tales of our suffering – whilst palatable to a non-disabled world – fits into a narrative in which our primary emergency arises from afflicted bodies, rather than the structures of society. We have learned that enabled people thrive off our narratives of torment and overcoming, just as the simple ‘before and after’ narrative of transition fits with what cis society expects of trans people.
In times like this, celebration is a form of community-building. Giving in to the darkness and replicating those narratives of suffering uncritically and ceaselessly tends towards the overindulgent. When things seem bleak and our lives feel hard, we should celebrate the communities we have, the alliances we’ve built. We should celebrate our talents, our morals, our survival; we should bring our whole selves to that celebration, with rage and fury and beauty and joy. We should look to the future. What world do we want to have built – and what can we do in the present to build that world?
Transpose, at the Barbican on the 6th-8th of November, does this. Performers including CN Lester, myself, Robin Gurney, Rebekah Ubuntu, Holden Madagame and others cross boundaries from electronica to poetry and opera. We reject the simplicity of narratives defined by suffering, and refuse to allow ourselves to lose the future. Instead, we come together to celebrate the beauty, the survival, and the importance of hoping and dreaming our way to a better world.
Standard tickets are £15, with concessions from £5. All performances are BSL interpreted. There is full wheelchair access, with a Changing Places toilet in a different part of the venue.