hold the wall, we have always existed. I shouted.
(35mm slide film, slide film projector, plywood, canvas, masking tape)
Trans people, gender non-conforming people, and folks operating under ideas of gender self-determination have existed for thousands of years. We aren’t something new, there is no “tipping point” as TIME likes to suggest. We’ve been here, we’re still here. Yet given all that, trans people are dying. Trans women of color have a life expectancy of 35 years.
In this piece, Kaija supposes the projector light as her existence, a constant, continual survival in the space she subsists in. She is always present, needing no assistance or validation, yet she invites allies to view her if they put in the requite labour. This is not a spectacle, but rather an invitation to put in both physical and emotional energy to make her permissible and feel safe in a cis dominated space.
This process of putting in energy takes multiple people. One person must hold the white wall at the required distance for the other people to view. The person holding the board will not be able to see the images, yet their labour will allow others to.
The images are a chronological timeline of Kaija’s medical “transition” on hormone replacement therapy (hrt). Her inspiration for this work were the many “transition timelines” that her trans siblings have uploaded to youtube over the many years before her. These videos were sacred to her in the months prior to hrt, providing a visual representation of existence, and a sense of community. This work showcases a series of self portraits taken over the last two years. While some images were originally authored by other photographers, she has since reclaimed these images by taking a picture of each printed image with her own camera.