Umbai is a photographic series that imagines queer futurism in the Kuwaiti context. The word “umbai” is a feminized word in Kuwaiti slang, it is a statement of surprise at the absurd and unexpected. Umbai is reserved only for the tongues of Kuwaiti women; so much so that if a man simply utters the word, they are accused of being gay. Thus, as a title, I have chosen this word to represent dominant discourses that regulate gender and sexuality in modern-day Kuwaiti society.

I have been interested in the ways that queer futurism becomes a crucial tool for those denied a future under the heteropatriarchy. Maneuvering between documentary photography, and constructed self-portraits/sets, this series depicts a culturally bound expression of queer idealism. Operating through the ultra-binary, the stereotypical, the absurd, the anonymous, and the phantasmic; I have created 5 characters that are situated within their own idealist worlds to portray the potentiality of other ways of being.

“The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there.” (Muñoz, 2009: 1)

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