Immersive art installation in London shines a light on trans history

This is an image of an immersive experience. There is a purple background and text in black over white that says 'Always been here, always will be'

A new immersive experience in central London during the final two weeks of Pride month will highlight that trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people have “always been here”.

The installation comes from Trans+ History Week, a launch pad of the media platform Queer AF, and is a continuation of its inaugural campaign and awareness week, during which digital billboards spread the “always been here” message across the UK.

The display is part of a collaboration with Outvertising and takes visitors on a journey through the thousand-year history of the trans, non-binary and gender-diverse communities, while being immersed in the choral sounds of the UK’s first professional trans+ choir, Trans Voices.

Right now, trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people are being dismissed as a “modern fashion” or “trend”. Sharing and celebrating the rich history of the community challenges the narrative this is somehow a new phenomenon.

This is an image of an immersive art experience.
The Trans+ History Week immersive experience will play twice every hour at Outernet from 17 to 30 June. (Trans+ History Week)

Marty Davies, the founder of Trans+ History Week CIC, said: “For this message to find such a visible home immediately prior to a general election is significant. The foundational lie upon which all harm is built is the idea that trans+ people are a trend, fashion or fad to be dismissed. It dehumanises us.”

A timeline stretches across the space with a style that refers to the DIY nature of zine sub-culture which is relevant to trans communication of the past, and something that still persists in today’s community.

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Using art as a conduit to explore the often-unseen threads of trans+ history, the project defies convention. Through three distinct narratives, the installation shines a light on the Galli priestesses of Ancient Rome, the legacy of American activist Marsha P. Johnson and the vibrant world of rave culture. Each story is brought to life by an artistic voice from a global network of trans+ creators.

After the programme, visitors are encouraged to continue their exploration of the stories from 20 emerging trans+ creatives, using a QR code that leads to QueerAF’s platform.

“The climate today is one where everyone’s talking about trans+ people but no one is talking with us,” Davies said. “We refuse to let our generation be defined by others in the way others have been.

“That is why it’s so powerful that trans+ people share our own stories and that we are the ones to share the stories of our ancestors.”

Visitors will be able to enjoy the experience in the Now Trending public space at Outernet, on Charing Cross Road, from 17 to 30 June. The programme will play twice every hour and will be on rotation alongside pieces from Pride in London and Gay Times.

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