Wow, it’s already been a month since NQAPIA was held! I am in a different continent altogether and it really feels strange writing this blog post at this point in time. Numerous images from the conference are cascading my thoughts right now and I definitely remember being super excited and somewhat overwhelmed with the different types of people and workshops I came across with. Some highlights include:
The ‘Creative Storytelling’ and ‘It’s better to speak to a camera than to a person’ workshops
I loved attending both these workshops mainly due to my deep attachment and belief in the power of visual storytelling/viewing. The workshops focused on creating safe spaces for people affected with HIV/AIDS or for those coming to terms with their own sexuality as integral in forming a heightened sense of awareness and consciousness on the part of the viewer. Picture collages coupled with employing a hand-held, tracking camera are used to make these documentary-esque videos but the stories themselves took on more of a narrative form, which I found effective.
Check the videos out at: http://www.banyantreeproject.org/takingroot.php
South Asian Caucus:
I appreciated this Caucus immensely since it was extremely discussion-oriented and everyone in the room (there were like 30 -35 people) spoke about the pressing issues they would like to witness/create change in within the South Asian Community. I myself expressed how NQAPIA provides a nurturing space for people to interact with one another but after its conclusion, our individual spaces might not be conducive to talking about such topics, especially in our respective countries. I liked how two people talked about the use and need for art to be transformative within our LGBT arenas and I loved listening to the elderly speak about how far they’ve come and the improvements they’ve undergone in both body and mind.
Queer Muslim workshop (forgot the title):
This workshop was not quite what I had expected as I wanted it to be more informative or discussion-oriented. Ever since I have come back to Bangladesh, the call of the Azan has beckoned me every day and I haven’t mustered the strength to pray namaz since I still have trouble aligning my religion with my gay identity. I felt I had too many expectations from this workshop but it has proven to be a personal journey that I will have to take (have attempted before) if I am to come to terms with these issues. Overall, I thought the presenters were very open about their religious lives and I learnt a lot from them.
I really enjoyed being a part of this conference and making new friends. I can’t wait for the next one!