The Book of Joy
The Book of Joy
A Creative Archive of Young Queer Black Women’s Pleasures
The Book of Joy is an exhibition for which we have compiled an eclectic collection of images, poems, and interview transcripts culled from our research on queer young black women’s sexualities and arts-based community work. Taking our cue from the practice and passion of Zanele Muholi, a black queer South African artist and activist based in Johannesburg who generates portraits of queer communities, we purposefully stray from our scholarly essay writing practice here in order to situate an evocative and more direct accounting of black queer young women’s erotics within the larger framework of this anthology. Although the work of our participants is nevertheless mediated through our process of collection, selection, framing, and ordering, we, like Zanele, believe that the creative expression and documentation of queer black lives is a significant politic. This project stems from the desire to witness and consume representations of Black female sexuality that are diverse, full, and comprehensive. In curating this exhibition, we draw on our action research designed to facilitate collective learning experiences with young Black women and girls in regards to visual culture, sex, sexuality, and pleasure. When the discussion of black queer young women’s lives is either non-existent or saturated by the overwhelming realities of harassment, trauma, depression, and violence that can also mark them, a focus on pleasure becomes an urgent project.
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