Sacred Beings is an attempt to recontextualise contemporary queer culture by re-examining the notion of gender fluidity and spiritualities outside the Western perspective.
The issue of gender diversity and acceptance is currently being debated in many countries in Asia, where transgender, gender non-conforming and queer individuals are marginalised, stigmatised and unprotected by law in most areas. Often, queer culture is seen as a Western import, and incompatible with Asian values; however, much of this stigmatisation is a remnant of the colonial legacy. In some cultures, gender expressions and performance beyond the binary were part of religious rituals and practices, and transgender and intersex individuals were considered sacred, as they embody both male and female identities, making them closer to God. Examples are the bissu priests in the Bugis culture in Sulawesi, the hijras in South Asia, and the nat kadaw in Myanmar. However, much of the practices were outlawed following Western colonialism, which saw them as perverted.
This project aims to reimagine, reconcile, re-establish, and reclaim the so-called gender deviations: the queer, the androgynous, the transgender, the sexless, the bodies in between and beyond the binaries in Asian cultures and elsewhere, by connecting the historical, contemporary, and speculative.
Sacred Beings is a programme by Young Curator Darunee Terdtoontaveedej.