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Queer Art & Archives

pride buttons, soothing stones by yanch

I was thinking about people whose stories are missing from the archives. I base my project on 21 written accounts of LGBTQ Singaporeans anonymously sharing their personal reflections on survival I found at the ArQuives. The stories were mostly of people who had to remain closeted for many years (some still are). They were struggling with subjects like identity, religious trauma, family pressures, feeling alone, and a lack of belonging, which led to much self-harm. Even anonymised, reaching out to have their stories recorded increased their vulnerability.

Hence, when I was looking at the pride buttons at the ArQuives which use hypervisibility as part of the gay liberation movement, I was thinking of creating artefacts for the people who still want to/have to remain hidden, invisible, closeted. 

These worry stones made out of polymer clay are artefacts to self-soothe, to self-empower, and which remain opaque to an outside (non-queer) eye. These stones are small, smooth, to be rubbed or fidgeted with as a way to calm the mind. They play a complementary role to pride buttons by creating an internal sense of solidarity and community. Instead of a rallying call or snarky response to discrimination, it tells a message of hope, of change, of survival.

In the archive, the buttons act as a form of recorded personal history. Who owned these buttons? What were they attached to? Where did these stains, scratches, faded bits come from? Similarly, these stones can thus serve as historical artefacts to retain a part of the stories of these people who must remain invisible at all costs, eventually potentially serving as inspiration for imagination and critical fabulation.