Artist working predominantly in digital media to communicate the experiences of being a Black Trans person. Their practice focuses on recording the lives of Black Trans people, intertwining lived experience with fiction to imaginatively retell Trans stories. Spurred on by a desire to record the “History of Trans people both living and past,” their work can often be seen as a Trans archive where Black Trans people are stored for the future.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR ROUTE TO YOUR CURRENT ARTISTIC PRACTICE?
Whilst I was at university studying art I was also involved in the burlesque scene in London. It was one of the first places I showed my work. There I met my community and began making work with them outside of school, doing various shows and performances. Slowly I began realising I wanted to generate work that archived those around me and so I began teaching myself how to 3d animate. I used it as a diary, recording everything and everyone around me. After scouring the archives for Black Trans people and not finding any, I realised that I wanted my work to be an archive and started transitioning my work to become autonomous archives that reacted to the audience. Now each time I make a work, I work alongside a different group of black trans people to determine how the work is accessed and what choices are available.
Q: CAN YOU IDENTIFY ANY ELEMENTS OF YOUR COMMUNITY OR COLLABORATORS THAT HAVE HAD A STRONG INFLUENCE?
The existence of my community is my inspiration. I often work alongside my community, through conversations, motion capture and sound. The ways in which black trans people tell stories affects the direction the work goes and how it is interacted with. How people interact with the work is developed with those who are being archived through it. The ways in which Black Trans people tell stories, move, speak and support each other have allowed me to breathe where there is no air. I want to make spaces that let those like me breathe easier.
Q: HOW IS YOUR PROJECT TIED TO THE CIRCA X DAZED CLASS OF 20:21 THEME OF ‘COMMUNION’ ?
The work is an ode to the black trans sisters who have kept me alive. I am here because of the generosity and effort of other Black Trans Femmes to hold each other’s head above the rising tides. This piece is a praise song to those Black Trans Femmes whose intimate and unwavering dedication to each other keeps so many alive.
Q: HOW WOULD THE CIRCA PRIZE OF £30,000 IMPACT YOUR FUTURE PRACTICE?
The prize would allow me to focus on part of my practice which seeks to generate space and work through working with large groups. It would be able to take my time in bringing together the group and allowing us to slowly generate ideas. Currently I am often doing a lot of the work myself, not having enough time or funds to allow the expansion towards a black trans studio. The prize would allow me to move towards having more permanent members of the team creating more complex experimental projects.
FOLLOW DANIELLE BRATHWAITE-SHIRLEY ON INSTAGRAM