Benny Siam

my piece, “Trans body of work” explores the boundaries of my Trans-ness as it amalgamates with other aspects of my identity and the social and geo-political contexts that they are situated in. through photographic intervention, photo collage, and abstract painting i explore the deeply personal yet simultaneously public act of being a non-binary Transfem. sara ahmed’s queer phenomenology and anne anlin cheng’s ornamentalism have been instrumental in conceptualizing my work in addition to the historical traditions of Black and Brown Trans women, especially 90s ball culture’s notions of opulence and glamor.

drawing from the same body, “Trans_zine” uses abstract digital collages with sewn interventions on photo paper. i invoke the tradition of feminist and queer life writing to create conversations between the abstract patterns they are joined together by. the zine itself has always been a politically charged artistic form, in part popularized by riot grrrl and queer punk movements of the 90s. while often critiqued for being exclusionary and white, i use the diy format of the zine to chronicle some of the more intimate, sexual, and messy parts of myself that have previously been only describable through abstract images and patterns. i draw from authors such as audre lorde and saadiya hartman and stitch together two forms of queer unknowability with needle and string creating a pseudo Trans body that resists consumption while still allowing for vulnerability. to summarize, trans liberation now!

Zine Cover

“Trans_zine”, sewn digital photo collage (left, cover; right, back cover), 8.5 in. x 11 in., 2021.

Zine Back

benny siam is a non-binary Trans, asian-american, and latinx multidisciplinary artist and educator! they are particularly interested in building community amongst young Queer and Trans people of color and dismantling institutional barriers of inaccessibility in the arts. they are projected to receive two bachelor's degrees in art practice and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, and a minor in comparative studies in race and ethnicity. siam has worked with students over with years ranging from elementary school to college students, bringing ideals of transformative justice and abolition into lessons on decolonization, anti-racism work, and queer theory through a visual and performance lens. both their art practice and community work centers around the destabilization of normative university and school spaces to be both more inclusive as well as nourishing spiritually, physically, and emotionally.


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