Zeph Fishlyn (they/them) is a multidisciplinary visual artist and activist dedicated to personal and collective storytelling as nonlinear tools for reinventing our world. Zeph’s public projects, drawings, objects and installations nurture alternative narratives by questioning, dreaming, distorting, celebrating and demanding. Their most recent work explores sources of collective and personal resilience as foundations for action in the face of overwhelming circumstances.
Zeph is a serial collaborator with social and environmental justice groups inventing creative responses to economic crisis and climate change — including Greenpeace, the San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, the PDX Trans Housing Coalition, and the Center for Artistic Activism. Zeph also worked as a researcher, illustrator and storyteller with the Beehive Design Collective’s True Cost of Coal graphics campaign, an intricate portable mural and workshop developed in collaboration with Appalachian grassroots organizations that has traveled to hundreds of cities in the US and internationally.
Zeph is an MFA Candidate in Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice program, where they are projected to graduate in September of 2020. For Gender Euphoria, Zeph will create a participatory iteration of their ongoing project Sum of its Parts.
Sum of its Parts: Glimpses of Future Genders
Close your eyes. Imagine a future gender. It could be five years from now or five thousand years from now. It could be human or inhuman. What could it look like? What color(s) is it? What shape(s) is it? What does it sound and smell like? What does it wear, how does it move? What is its spirit?
Glimpses of Future Genders is a crowd-sourced photo project that experimented with remote forms of co-creation in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Created in collaboration with curator Becca Owen, the project was entirely conducted via web, snailmail and remote pickup. Members of the public anonymously contributed descriptions of future genders, which then became prompts for photographs. We paired those prompts with disposable cameras made available via five porch-pickup locations around Portland. Participants picked up a camera, then snapped a photographic fragment or glimpse of a future gender.
The result is a kind of “contact sheet” that is simultaneously a portrait of a certain present-day Portland amidst a pandemic, and a glance towards an imagined future beyond the gender binary.
Thank you to my collaborators:
All of the anonymous and semi-anonymous participants who contributed new names for genders and snapped photographs.
Porch Pickup Hosts— Becca Owen, Everett Owen, Molly Alloy, Brendan Curran, Victoria Sundell
Blue Moon Camera
“Anthropomopolyology is a wearable, custom screen-printed hanky and accompanying mini user manual. The project draws on the queer cruising “hanky code,” a custom of wearing different colored bandanas to make specific sexual offers and requests. The original art for the hanky depicts a celebratory international gathering of thirteen anthropomorphized species whose scientifically-observed romantic and sexual lives are queer as fuck (chosen from 450 species detailed in Bruce Begamihl’s 1999 book, Biological Exuberance.) The hanky is being distributed nationally and is anchoring a short video project to be completed when we can touch each other again. The project highlights the wide variety of ways both humans and animals can express relationships, throwing up a fabulously queer rebuttal to heteronormative ideas of what is ‘natural.’ ”
— Zeph Fishlyn