The birth of Venus

Let the events guide you and observe what the sequence of these events says. Having collected all the pieces of the puzzle absolutely intuitively, this time I watched the birth of Venus. A pearly sheen envelops delicate fingers, touches the collarbones and all the senses, as a symbol of femininity.

I asked Pari Banu Asgar to share her thoughts on her experience of being Venus.
"As you may know, it's really difficult to be kind of "out of box" in a conservative society such as Azerbaijan, especially in the context of gender. Any act of rejecting to share the same rule of being a male or a female transforms you into an outcast of the community. I really struggle to live in a society where even the colour of my trousers, or earrings on my ears can be a trigger for others. People always tell you "You have a penis. Act like a man!" or "You have a vagina. Behave like a woman!".

But I have always been curious about what it means. To be a man? To be a woman? Isn't it simply possible to be out of this primitive binary stuff? Does it really matter if somebody has a penis but they are effeminate and caring, or if you have a vagina but you are masculine and dominative?

Sometimes I just want to scream "I have a penis! Didn't you know that? Ha ha ha! So hilarious, isn't it?! Get my gender-fluid nature! You Just shut up and listen..! I feel fucking amazing! Yes, I have a penis! But I don't give a shit about feeling pretty and feminine being biologically a male!"
I've never been masculine enough for the society where I live, even in my childhood. Don't you think it is really stupid when you are a little boy and
everyone wants you to be masculine. By the way, now it's time for a short story. When I was a child, I passionately loved to put some makeup on, wear a shirt, and perform a belly dance.
However, my parents were extremely strict about it, especially my father. But I've always had a brave personality. Then, I got punished for doing it. So I always just ask myself… Why? Is femininity a curse for a boy?
And now, I found the answer… My absolute emancipation has always frightened others!"
Her notes before moving to Tbilisi

18 June 2022
18 June 2022
18:37 – I cannot bear it anymore. So I decided to move to Tbilisi. I do not know what I shall do there with my limited budget. But I do not have any other choice. It is humiliating. I almost lost myself... Maybe it is a way out!

21:23 – I am afraid I should delay my transition. I am very sorry about that. It requires a lot of money. Now I should save money to survive in Tbilisi.
19.06.22
19.06.22
20:51 – I am very confused. But I purchased a ticket to Tbilisi. I am very scared! I talked to Giorgi. He works at Untitled Gallery. I shall also work with them. But Giorgi told me that they had no opportunity to support me financially. It makes the whole situation more stressful for me. I almost have no one there.

23:48 – I would like to receive more support from my future colleagues at Untitled Gallery. I almost feel so alone! Even my friend, Aysel, is not supportive enough. I expected more empathy from her. She is sort of cold. I do not know why.
20.06.22
20.06.22
11.07 – I found a Turkish girl based in Tbilisi on Facebook who will give me a little flat near Guramshvilli metro station for just 100$. It is amazing! But it will be free only after 17 July. So I continue to look for a flat or a room.

12:45 – I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel frightened and scared. On the other hand, I am positively excited about the trip. Even now, my heart starts to beat faster. It is so strange!

13:31 – A few days ago I made up my mind to lessen the dosage of antidepressants, and finally to stop taking them. So I feel more insecure and stressed now. But I hope I shall handle it.

23:45 – I know... I have to go...
22.06.22
22.06.22
00:25 – I feel less and less of the impact of antidepressants. I drank and danced a lot this night to get the same feeling of happiness. But when I became sober, all I felt was pain again!

01:33 – I found a few paid fellowships that I can apply for. It can be a possible solution to survive for some period of time.

01:52 – People do not stop to tell me that transgender persons are killed in Georgia. It makes me feel even more concerned. I have doubts...

09:32 – Oh my gosh! I feel like a pant. I cannot move my body on a bed.

10:05 – I started to think over staying 24/7 at Untitled Gallery as performance to share my experience being a transgender migrant. So every visitor can come anytime, and watch what I shall be doing there. They can even observe when I pee or when I am naked, and when I am sleeping.

13:50 – I talked to Lili. He said he will contact his friends in Tbilisi to help me find an accommodation. I hope he will!

23:38 – I drank again this evening. Now I feel better!

21.06.22
21.06.22
09:50 – In the morning I woke up with more confidence that I should leave. But I still have no accommodation to stay.

12:37 – It is so strange that after all that my family has done to me I am still feeling guilty. I guess I have Stockholm syndrome. I just want to get rid of that odd feeling.

12:47 – Yesterday I contacted two model agencies in Tbilisi. They require my snapshots. I should take them somehow and send them. It can also be one of the job opportunities. But I guess I am a bit old for modeling.

17:03 – My alcoholic father wanted to hit me after seeing my new green shopper bag with the pronouns she/they. He was holding a knife. But I don't know why. Maybe he wanted to cut me. He just was concerned about the neighbors again.
22.06.22
22.06.22
00:25 – I feel less and less of the impact of antidepressants. I drank and danced a lot this night to get the same feeling of happiness. But when I became sober, all I felt was pain again!

01:33 – I found a few paid fellowships that I can apply for. It can be a possible solution to survive for some period of time.

01:52 – People do not stop to tell me that transgender persons are killed in Georgia. It makes me feel even more concerned. I have doubts...

09:32 – Oh my gosh! I feel like a pant. I cannot move my body on a bed.

10:05 – I started to think over staying 24/7 at Untitled Gallery as performance to share my experience being a transgender migrant. So every visitor can come anytime, and watch what I shall be doing there. They can even observe when I pee or when I am naked, and when I am sleeping.

13:50 – I talked to Lili. He said he will contact his friends in Tbilisi to help me find an accommodation. I hope he will!

23:38 – I drank again this evening. Now I feel better!
23.06.22
23.06.22
10:05 – Today I am a bit angry. I guess it is because of ignorance. It is sad! 21:15 – My mom called and told me that I must find a governmental job.

23:35 – We had a conversation with my mom. She said that I need treatment for my strange behavior.
24.06.22
24.06.22

13:41 – I hate my parents more and more day by day. But I know I should set the anger inside me free.
25.06.22
25.06.22


01:30 – Today I told my mom that I will leave home soon.
Banu In Tbilisi
We met in Tbilisi and I continued to photograph her. She told me that even if she is not financially stable, she feels much safer in this city. Starting on June 28 Banu changed apartments three times, but eventually found a landlord who was nice to her and they even became friends. She said she felt less lonely in the city. She started looking for a job, but the fact she does not speak Georgian is a big problem. She wants to find a good job with normal working hours, so it would be safe for her.
She received some messages from her family and relatives who still were concerned the neighbors might know that Banu is freely living her life the way she wants to and that doesn't suit the family. She was even accosted by some Azerbaijani women on the street who were unhappy about a transgender woman from Azerbaijan. They said it was shameful.

Banu told me that her mother tried to convince her to marry some girl and then to do whatever she wanted. Banu tried to explain that it will make even more people unhappy than just her: The response was "But the neighbors will not know." For her mother, that was a more important reason than the happiness of her child.
Banu is a visual artist and performer, she experiments with photography, performance, video, sound and fashion to talk about issues such as identity, violence and transformation. Banu came across an open call for queer artists for an exhibition in Berlin when she was in Baku.
She applied and took part in this exhibition with her Polaroids. Then, when she arrived in Tbilisi, the curator of the above-mentioned exhibition wrote to her and invited her to perform at the Tes club in Tbilisi.
She had a successful performance playing the role of the serpent goddess Shahmaran. Banu told the story of Shahmaran, who had been betrayed by her lover. "According to legend, whoever eats Shahmaran's meat becomes immortal, so her lover tells the king where she has been hiding and the king kills and eats her," she says.
In the second half of the performance, she speaks about her experience.
Now Banu has been living in Tbilisi for more than a month. She expresses herself as she wants to. She is without her family and her friends, almost alone. But she is liberated and she is not afraid of those closest to her - her family, whose only thought was just to make Banu look the way the neighbors would appreciate. But at the same time she is not feeling safe. In our last conversation Banu told me that a few days ago she was attacked by two young men near her house, which is far from the center. They said something in Georgian, beat her and pulled her hair. An old man came to her aid. Now she is looking for an apartment closer to the city center, because it seems safer to her and she thinks that people in central neighborhoods are less homophobic.

Publications

Made on
Tilda