Zeph Fishlyn is a multidisciplinary visual artist dedicated to personal and collective storytelling as magic for reinventing our world. Zeph’s drawings, public projects, objects and installations nurture alternative narratives by asking, dreaming, distorting, joking and demanding. Their most recent work explores sources of resilience in the face of structural violence. Zeph has also spent years as a grassroots cultural worker in movements for social and economic justice and queer liberation. When these strands overlap, collaborative radical stories come to life in the form of political graphics and props, street theater, and creative intervention.
Selected Public Projects
Those We Glimpse: Gathering Our Queer Ancestors
(ongoing participatory installation series)
For many of us, coming out as queer casts us out from our own “official” family stories and leaves us searching for ancestors–for that larger web from which we draw strength and context. But for every famous historical queer, there are thousands more who lived un-famous, half-glimpsed, or closeted lives. Their stories might only live on through family scandal, coded euphemisms, clues gleaned from letters and photographs. Visitors are invited to add a bird with a queer story, rumor or “might-have-been” from their own families.
I created the Restor(y)ing Space for the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) as a welcoming and flexible public space for sharing stories about home and belonging. Visitors could sit down and have a cookie and a chat, or record oral histories. The could also write questions on eviction notices from the Oakland Rent Board and slide them through the mail slot as inspiration for others’ conversations.
The Restor(y)ing Space was created in collaboration with AEMP and Fremont High students Rachelle Hughes and Hannah McDonough.
Fabric was a participatory installation using texts distilled from interviews with 16 queer and trans people about home and belonging. Storytellers ranged in age from late teens to late sixties, and had spent between 40+ years and 3 weeks in the SF Bay Area. Throughout the two weeks of the exhibit, their words slowly filled the walls of the house, along with handwritten stories generated during two participatory workshops.
In the context of escalating evictions throughout the Bay Area, queers occupy a complicated role, both as people at risk for displacement and sometimes as first-wave gentrifiers. Many of us migrated to urban centers in response to prior uprootings—by economics, by violence, by homophobia.
What does “home” look like when you pull it out of a particular building, or neighborhood or geography? When circumstances move us, willingly or unwillingly, how do we take “home” with us? How do we prepare to make new home in new places, and who do we prepare to make it with?
More work at www.zephrocious.com…