“Representations do not simply re-present an already existing reality but are also doors into making new futures possible,” write Tourmaline, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton in the introduction to Trap Door, a critical anthology of writing on trans cultural production and the politics of visibility. “If we do not attend to representation and work collectively to bring new visual grammars into existence (while remembering and unearthing suppressed ones), then we will remain caught in the traps of the past,” ones that try to convince us that we don’t exist.
It is to that end that Brooklyn-based artist and educator Naima Green came up with her latest project. Pur•suit is a deck of playing cards that doubles as an archive, creating and preserving imagery of the people she knows so intimately in her community but rarely sees on the record: queer women, trans women, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary people. Inspired by Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck and created with Opie’s blessing, Green plans to create portraits of over 100 people — including writers Fariha Róisín and Jenna Wortham; Man Repeller production manager Crystal Anderson; poet power couple Angel Nafis and Shira Erlichman; members of the YELLOW JACKETS COLLECTIVE, a “collective of queer Yellow American femmes collaborating towards futures that center marginalized bodies”; and members of bklyn boihood, a collective of “queer and trans bois of color who create spaces for our community to bloom.” These portraits will live on as decks of playing cards as well as online as part of a digital archive.
“I hope these cards can create something close to the oasis my community creates for me,” Green tells Out. “Once these decks are made and I can hold them in my hands, I think it will feel more real. I’ll cry at how hard this has been and be so, so proud.”
Green is currently raising funds for Pur•suit on Kickstarter. Over 500 people have pledged more than $26,000 so far, but that still leaves Green about $6,000 short of her fundraising goal — and her deadline is this Friday, Feb. 22. If you’d like to help her bring this project to life and preserve imagery of Brooklyn’s queer and trans communities of color for generations to come, donate here, and read on to learn more about Pur•suit and see some portraits from the project.
“As a person of color and as a woman of color, what does my queer community look like?” asks Green. “How can I create my own capsule and archive my own?” Donate to Pur•suit.
“Whose stories and what queer bodies are centered in the mainstream?” she continues. “What stories do we learn about? And how do I preserve this community and make something that is going to outlast us — that’s going to be beneficial to younger generations?” Donate to Pur•suit.
Pur•suit — a deck of playing cards featuring portraits of queer women, trans women, and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people that doubles as an archive of her contemporary communities — was the answer she came up with. Donate to Pur•suit.
On the project’s Kickstarter page, Green writes that she was inspired to create Pur•suit after stumbling on Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck — a deck of playing cards made in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art featuring portraits of women in San Francisco’s lesbian community shot between 1990 and 1995 — during research for her MFA thesis, All the black language.
“[Opie’s Dyke Deck] felt both new and old, still radical and iconic,” writes Green. “I knew it would find a place in my work as I wanted to add to the ethos of queer cultures. With Opie’s blessing, I embarked on reimagining the Dyke Deck into a 2018 East Coast experience.” Donate to Pur•suit.
Green tells Out that she plans to make between 2,500 and 5,000 decks, if Pur•suit’s fundraising goal is met by its Friday deadline. The decks are intended to be multi-purpose: You can play a card game, use them for Tarot, or even just stare at them for hours and hours on end. Green tells Out that she loves to play spades, but “I need some playing partners.” Donate to Pur•suit.