There has never been a time in history where people were so open, explorative and accepting of their identity and sexualities as they are today. We're literally given the pronouns people want us to address them by and yet such radical authenticity has been more often than not met by demeaning confusion and indifference; peak status quo resistance. In an environment that is fighting to accept change, a photo series explores the other side of acceptance.
Conceptualized by KaMani Sutra, a South Asian Telugu genderqueer bearded drag artist who transcends western drag expectations by their performance repertoire and aesthetic senses, Swarnakamalam or Flower Crotch is a representation of soft femininity that is repressed in homophobic environments but everpresent in all genders. It's a rebellion against a heteronormative narrative that enforces the gender binary.
Swarnakamalam translates to golden lotus in Telegu. The project is inspired by KaMani's obsession with flowers. Being open on the internet about their body hair, femininity, and authentic self as a genderqueer non-binary drag artist has been mentally challenging for KaMani; confronted with homophobic comments like “what’s under your clothes?” and “ what's in between your legs?”. These questions made the artist realize that society is always trying to label them.
Flower crotch or Swarnakamalam then, is the expression of how sorry KaMani feels for the people still operating by patriarchal, heteronormative narratives. The artist believes that those people feel isolated and alone when they see KaMani's art which is based on an incredible vision of the world that doesn’t exist right now. And so they respond with the hate messages. The artist understands that the art they're putting out may not receive the support and love right now but they're still committed to living beyond the societal boundaries of life.
KaMani is currently working on 'Being Queen is My Resistance: Lessons in Drag Mythology and Migration', a cabaret-style, one-person show that blends storytelling, drag performance, dance, and video to weave together milestones in KaMani Sutra’s story of discovering their femininity while being an adult immigrant to the United States. This autobiographical multimedia program contrasts the freedom to express their true self in a foreign land with aesthetics and inspirations rooted in the richness of Indian drag.
Where debates on what's masculine and what's feminine remain a large part of discourse about identity, Swarnakamalam is a defying and subversive confluence of both and a celebration of genderqueer identity.
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