Hidden Identities - an exhibition to amplify the voices of marginalised communities
Hidden Identities, an exhibition at Te Atamira that aims to amplify the voices of marginalised communities in the region and beyond, is running until the end of the month. It includes curated sculptures and artworks, carefully crafted by artists from a range of different backgrounds and experience.
Natasya Zambri is one of the masterminds behind Bright Ink Bookshop and is at the helm of this project. Working under the moniker of Tāhuna Kollektif, it serves as a platform for marginalised communities to share the hidden facets of daily lives that are often concealed for societal approval. Zambri says the initiative is open to anyone that may not consider themselves an artist, but are seeking a creative space to express their unique story. She says they’ve touched on topics such as ageism, displacement, poverty, cultural diaspora, sexual assult, gender expression and identities, and much more.
“This came about drawing from my experiences being a migrant and also a Muslim, and just a marginalised individual coming to Queenstown,” Zambri says. “I had challenges finding my place in the creative space, and for the last few years I’ve hosted events, either from Bright Ink Bookshop or the library, focusing on a platform for our marginalised communities to just be themselves.
“With Hidden Identities, I kind of wanted to highlight our hidden identities in society – many from marginalised communities feel that they often need to hide their true self for societal approval. So they’ve got this concealed facet of their cultural heritage, gender, orientation, abilities and struggles. We wanted to explore this and encourage conversation around it – just to have a safe and judgement-free space for people to come and share their story.”
When the exhibition first launched, Zambri had some community discussions and held talks with some of the artists involved where they explained their personal journeys and stories. Don’t worry if you missed out on those earlier talks though, there’s a booklet of stories at the exhibition that you can match to each artwork, which has created an engaging and interactive experience.
In June, Zambri made the decision to transfer her ownership of Bright Ink Bookshop so that she can focus on putting on events outside of her role at the library. She says it’s been truly heart-warming to witness people from diverse backgrounds express excitement about the opportunity to showcase their creations in an exhibition.
“I want to continue providing this platform for our marginalised communities because often I feel like it’s a luxury for them to maybe even do art. I feel like sometimes someone has to reach out to them and pull their hand into the creative space. For me, I had to open the bookshop to do the events I wanted to do, like open mic, poetry, affordable writing workshops and zine workshops. I came to the conclusion that instead of focusing on running the bookshop and events at the bookshop, I want to just do events – and that’s how Tāhuna Kollektif was created,” she says.
Hidden Identities will run at Te Atamira until Thursday, 30 November, and is a free exhibition. More information can be found at teatamira.nz