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Hussina Raja

80's to Lately: A Queer Celebration

Artist Statement

A series of intimate portraits of individuals who grew up in the ‘80s – a defining decade in

queer history of progress and setbacks. Juxtaposed are profiles of a current generation who

represent what being queer can be today. Following the artist’s work with the Terrence

Higgins Trust and Stonewall Housing, this exhibition was born from research and coffee

conversations over a period of 2.5 years, exploring queer identity, culture and sexuality.

Special thanks to all the contributors:

Alexis, Paul Allard, Dean Atta, Lola Clavo, Hannah Holland, Kate Jessop, Princess Julia, Francine Merry, Tareq Sayed Rajab de Montford, Fabio Santos, Terry O’Leary, Andy Polaris

Twitter: @HussinaRaja

Instagram: @HussinaRaja

Alexis - Make-up Artist and Performer

Paul Allard - Creative

Dean Atta - Poet, Writer and Educator

Lola Clavo - Filmmaker

Hannah Holland - DJ and Music Producer

Francine Merry - Musician

Tareq Sayed Rajab de Montford - Artist

Terry O’Leary - Forum Theatre Practitioner

Andy Polaris - Musician, Visual Stylist and Writer

Paul Allard - Creative

“...the music and the scene was much smaller so you knew people...whereas the gay scene now is so generic...all the values of the gay scene now are muscles, drugs and sort of manufactured music...which all sounds the same, there’s nothing unique..”

Tareq Sayed Rajab de Montford - Artist

“...there’s a danger of becoming the monster you set out to fight...anyone who fights or is an activist or wants to represent something of equality, they can’t criticise the things of the people that they disagree with because that’s exactly why they turned into the queer, because they don’t want that done to themselves...”

Dean Atta - Poet, Writer and Educator

“I think of the LGBT community cos, you know you gotta find what fits for you, not all queer, or LGBT spaces are gonna be right for you, like not all spaces in general are gonna be right for you so people are creating the spaces that they need, so you either gotta find people with a similar mindset to you, or create a space.”

Lola Clavo - Filmmaker

“Post-porn is not porn. Post-porn is more like an art movement that challenges the notions of traditional porn or the ideas of porn. Its goal is not to arouse people necessarily, it just pops, you know, questions into people’s minds about porn and sexuality...lots of post-porn films, they don’t have any sex in it...not with that commercial goal especially. Post-porn doesn’t make any money.”

Francine Merry - Musician

“... you have to realise, some people say it’s brave, it’s not brave, it’s absolutely necessary... to try to sort oneself out... by going down this transition’s given me assurance inside that this is the person who I am.”

Andy Polaris - Musician, Visual Stylist and Writer

I met Andy whilst volunteering at the Oxfam shop in Dalston, London. Andy was the visual merchandiser whose brilliant budget-dressed windows featured on the BBC.

Considered a shaper of the ‘80s, he was the lead vocalist in the ‘80s pop-group Animal Nightlife. He can be seen in the documentary Beyond: There’s Always A Black Issue, Dear - giving credit to the black queer people who built British nightlife. For more on Andy follow his blog

Terry O’Leary - Forum Theatre Director

Terry is a Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner and Associate Director of a homeless theatre company in London’s East End, who has lived experience of homelessness herself.

Part of the Rebel Dykes, a group of radical lesbians who mixed sexual politics with squat culture in Brixton in the 80s, they were the antithesis of ‘80s conservatism. They launched London’s first lesbian fetish club and opened up women-only squats across the city.

“We put on music events, club nights, and we were opening squats for families, women in particular, making sure there was electricity and gas.”

Hannah Holland - DJ and Music Producer

Hannah Holland is a worldwide DJ, producer and label boss from London. She has played a pivotal role in London’s alternative and queer club scene since the mid-noughties. She founded the record label Batty Bass, providing Holland with a self-determined platform for her own music, including ‘Paris’ Acid ball’, an acid-tinged anthem that continues to summon voguing sweat in queer spaces worldwide.

I took this photo while she was resident DJ at the eclectic queer space that is Dalston Superstore.

Artist Biography

Hussina Raja is a British-Kashmiri multidisciplinary artist based between London and Berlin.

Her work explores social-political issues surrounding notions of identity, heritage, belonging

and culture through film, photography, installation, writing and performance.

She is interested in identity politics and the emergence of subcultures in shaping politics,

popular culture and social constructs to-date. Her artistic process is based on research,

experimentation and collaboration with artists across disciplines, and community groups,

particularly those marginalised by the mainstream. She often uses her personal experiences

and encounters as a starting point for creating work.

You can find more of her work on Instagram.

Alternatively, you can view her work in SEAS' February exhibition, 'Queering Spaces'.



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