Meet the Indian artist fighting for the representation of queer people in the metaverse and around the globe
For this edition of the nftreats.art artist focus, we met NFT artist and activist Anwesh Sahoo (he/him). Meet the Indian artist, blogger, writer, model, actor and TEDx speaker fighting for the representation of queer people in the NFT Community, in India and around the globe.
Hi Anwesh! Please introduce yourself to the community. What are your pronouns, where are you from and what do you do?
Hi folx, I’m an Indian artist, and I wear multiple hats, but a lot of my work lies in the spectrum of visual and technical artistry. My pronouns are he/him/his.
An ongoing topic in your art is queerness and breaking the gender binary, especially in the context of your home country, India. Why do you think these histories have been overlooked and in what ways do you hope to revive them through your work?
I have had a tumultuous road to coming out, and after. Coming out queer in India isn’t easy, and more so for an individual with an androgynous gender expression like mine. Mainstream representation plays a huge role in how we perceive sexuality in our country, and the lack of sex and sexuality education is an issue. I wanted to specifically tackle the same with my artwork, a more aestheticised, empowered and dignified representation, in fact in some ways my work is quite fantastical, high camp, high glamour, and a kaleidoscope of colours. We were stuck with a Draconian law for years, however, because of the work of equal rights activists, Section 377 in India was read down. This legalised the LGBTIQA+ folx in this country, but a lot needs to be done still, marriage rights, adoption rights, better mainstream representation, and a lot more.
Mainstream representation plays a huge role in how we perceive sexuality
How and why did you get into creating NFT art?
I got to know about NFTs through Beeple, and then closer home through Amrit Pal Singh at the start of the year. I realised how art can empower me in ways I’d never thought of before. It’s an interesting space that brings tech, and art together and more so the fact that it empowers me to continue to create art that is representative of the cause I stand for.
NFTs made me realised how art can empower me in ways I’d never thought of before
What are you currently working on? Can we get a sneak peek?
I recently shared my genesis piece ‘Modchitra: a safe sex story’ on Foundation which was sold out today, to my icon Amrit Pal Singh, which is so so surreal to me honestly! Regarding the artwork, it denotes the need for safer sex practices and conversations around sexual hygiene. Despite the prevalence of STDs and HIV in the LGBTIQA+ community, safe sex practices sometimes go for a toss in the heat of the moment. The idea of preparing one’s body and mind before the act is seldom spoken of. Anal sex for instance requires exploration of one’s own anatomy and cleaning up the right way in order to have a pleasurable, safe and clean experience. Most of these conversations never happen due to the lack of awareness, and perhaps since parents are too shy, or simply do not know how to initiate these conversations around sex, intimacy and sexual hygiene practices. These are the specific areas that I wanted to touch upon through my artwork (MODern-pataCHITRA), and more importantly, the idea that this conversation is extremely relevant to all of us no matter where we lie in the gender and sexuality spectrum. Whether you are Adam and Eve, Anna and Eve, or Adam and Steve, safe sex practices apply to you too. You can find the artwork here: https://foundation.app/@theEffeminare/modchitra-1-0-77942
Other than that, I’m also going LIVE with my limited edition prints via my online shop here.
Whether you are Adam and Eve, Anna and Eve, or Adam and Steve, safe sex practices apply to you too
What are your individual mediums? How did you get into your current mediums?
I started drawing when I was 3. From plastic crayons to watercolour, to poster colours, to acrylic colours, to now digital. I enjoy experimenting with different media. I’m really open to explorations. But digital art and my sketchbook triumph for me at the moment.
What are you trying to express as an artist?
Individuality, my story, my trials and tribulations and above all the silver lining. There is light at the end of this tunnel. 🙂
What does having a fulfilling creative practise look like and feel like for you?
Honestly, I’m still in the process of finding that right balance. I have a full-time day job, I make NFTs now and also continue to design wedding invites and illustrations. Maybe this is what a fulfilling practice really is. I think it’s a process. Sometimes I look back and appreciate how far I’ve come on this journey. 10 years ago, if someone would’ve told me I would be here, I would’ve been starry-eyed. To get to do what I love, and get paid for it, haha! But, now I have even bigger aspirations. That’s all I can say for now. 🙂
10 years ago, if someone would’ve told me I would be here, I would’ve been starry-eyed. To get to do what I love, and get paid for it
What do you think is your best quality (or qualities)? How does it translate into your creative practice, and/or your work?
Resilience, and patience. That’s my biggest asset. It’s very difficult to pull me down. And most of my works are very meticulously crafted. It takes a lot of time, patience, and resilience to make the art I do.
What inspires or motivates you to do the work that you do?
A world without labels.
Do you have any exciting accomplishments, upcoming projects, or goals that you would like to share?
There is so much happening at the moment. I have 2 more drops on Foundation planned for the year, my online shop as I mentioned goes live in September, I’m in a new job that I thoroughly enjoy, and a really fun popular chat show that will be LIVE soon.
Do you have any advice for emerging queer artists entering the NFT space?
Be very patient, be very diligent, take it one step at a time and have fun while you’re at it.
What are you, as an artist, hoping to achieve in the NFT space?
Inclusion, representation, and financial empowerment.
What are you missing in the NFT space thus far? What would you like to see improve?
I think NFTs have a lot of potentials that are still unexplored, especially in the smaller markets. There is a world that still doesn’t know much about it. So the reach I believe is perhaps the issue.
Why do you want to join nftreats?
Why not? An NFT platform that empowers creators to celebrate sex, sexuality, implied nudity and eroticism. Heck, yeah!
I am hoping to gain more Inclusion, representation, and financial empowerment through NFTs
Finish this sentence: Eroticism is…