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The latest commission for the BAMPFA Art Wall, Edie Fake’s Affordable Housing for Trans Elders is an open invitation for visitors to consider the exciting complexities of queer space. Presented as a building façade, Fake’s mural visualizes a structure full of surprises. Window frames veer off in new directions and dead-end or interlock with others; decorative strips add vibrant accents in seemingly ad hoc ways; and doors are adorned with striking patterns that capture one’s gaze even as they remain closed. Drawing on the idiosyncratic character of vernacular and repurposed buildings, Fake employs architecture as an imaginative site for celebrating the uniqueness of transgender bodies and the lives of gender-nonconforming people.
At the same time, Fake’s mural seeks to catalyze social action. The ideas behind Affordable Housing for Trans Elders originated with the artist’s experience helping an older trans person secure housing in Southern California’s high desert. Faced with his friend’s limited physical and economic mobility, discrimination, and a social infrastructure that inadequately addressed the needs of the LGBTQ community, Fake responded with the imaginative power of what he calls “ecstatic architecture”: “It’s a visualization of something that is unbuilt but has the potential to be realized. I draw what I draw to push these things into existence.” Both familiar and abstract, Fake’s vision prompts viewers to consider how affordable housing for the trans community can move from imaginary structures to reality.
Born in 1980 outside of Chicago, Edie Fake lives and works in Twentynine Palms, California. He is best known for his intimately scaled drawings and paintings that explore trans and nonbinary experiences of adaptation and transition. An artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally, Fake is also an award-winning graphic novelist and creator of the queer comic series Gaylord Phoenix.