fact festival lyon 2022 promoting trans artists
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Article by:
Chloé Bruère-Dawson
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November 9, 2022
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Celebrating trans art, artists, and communities with FACT

This Monday marked the last day of the FACT, the first festival in France to promote the creation and sharing of works by transgender artists. Over two weeks, artists and attendees of all kinds gathered in two theatres in the city of Lyon for exhibits, performances, readings, workshops, runways, concerts, movie projections, and more.

It was the third edition of the festival, which was brought to life in 2019 after a turn of events. It echoes the Semana de Arte Trans (Trans Art Week), a festival that has been taking place since 2016 in Montevideo, Uruguay, and that the co-creators of FACT, Arsène Marquis, and Maëlys Meyer, attended in 2019. After four weeks of exchange between them and Delfina Martínez and Leho de Sosa from the queer Uruguayan collective L.A. Contracultural, the need to export this event in France became apparent.

On October 27, all these beautiful people gathered again in the Elysée Theather in Lyon’s 7th arrondissement to celebrate the opening of the 2022 edition of the festival, an unhoped-for reunion after the pandemic restrictions and considering all the difficulties that face South American transgender individuals to enter Europe. This was reminded by Leho de Sosa who insisted that for a long time, the only way for South American trans people to go to Europe was through sex work, but thanks to self-organization, this could finally be changed. Besides Delfina Marínez, three other artists from South America were invited for this edition: Eliara Queiroz (Brazil), Sofia Saunier (Uruguay), and Dynamo (Chile).

At a time when trans people's rights are even more challenged, with the rise of TERF’s visibility in French media feeding a moral panic, the festival offers an essential space of artistic exchange and celebration where transgender individuals occupy a central place. More than a cultural event, FACT aims to give tools to directly help trans artists: During the festival, “Tea 4 T”, a professional meeting, was organized to facilitate networking between trans artists and other people from the industry. Moments of community self-care were also part of the program, like the workshop “Ceremoaning” organized by Léa Rivière which offered a space for collective grieving.
From this year’s edition, three creations caught our eyes: “Cotyledons”, the clothing creations of artist Sabrina Calvo, “UÝRA – A Retomada da Floresta”, a documentary by trans indigenous artist Uyra Sodoma that we urge you to watch, and, finally, “Guerreras Futuras”.

“Guerreras Futuras” is a group of works by artist Sofia Saunier which includes a science fiction novel published in 2020 and a retrospective of drawings based on it, exhibited throughout the festival. It isn’t the only project of Sofia Saunier, who uses numerous means of artistic expression and has been working since 2013 on the Youtube channel “Transur”, where she has been interviewing and sharing the lives of trans people in Uruguay. At the festival’s opening, Sofia Saunier, after reading an excerpt of her novel, celebrated the multiplication of trans events outside of western countries. Despite the imperialist and colonial narrative of the south having to look up to the north, especially in terms of LGBTIQ+ rights, she was happy to remind the public that FACT was the exact opposite, being born out of the Uruguayan festival.

We would probably have never been able to see nor share these incredible works without the existence of FACT. The perpetuation and development of these kinds of initiatives anywhere in the world are essential to the fair representation of trans art. On top of bringing together the works of trans artists and sharing them with the world, FACT offers a community space where, even if it’s only a few days, it feels good to be. To ensure that FACT keeps existing, don’t hesitate to participate in their crowdfunding, open till the end of the year.

Photography courtesy of the festival

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