Exhibitions - Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities” and “TransLatinx Resilience against COVID-19”

Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities” and “TransLatinx Resilience against COVID-19”

09.18.21 – 03.30.22

Photoville 2021

A black and white photo of a group of women of color standing in a circle. They are standing on a park lawn arms length apart from one another. Behind them are tall trees and an above ground railway.

Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities by Zynab Cewalam / TransLatinx Resilience against COVID-19 by Joana Toro.

The Queens Museum is excited to partner with Photoville 2021 on the presentation of two outdoor photography exhibitions: Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities – produced in collaboration with Malikah – in Astoria Park, and TransLatinx Resilience against COVID-19 – produced in collaboration with Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo – in Travers Park. Both projects were organized as part of the Queens Museum’s Year of Uncertainty and will be on view from September 18 to March 30, 2022.


Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities aims to capture the love, strength, and joy within our community as we collectively use self-defense and healing as a tool to build power and safety for all women. Malikah was founded by Astoria native Rana Abdelhamid, to build community and share resources with people impacted by hate and gender-based violence in a post-9/11 New York City. This series highlights the beauty and importance of our individual and collective journeys as we work towards a more just world.


The images were taken in August of 2021, during a public self-defense workshop in Astoria Park organized by Malikah and facilitated by Rana Abdelhamid. In the workshop, participants were introduced to techniques in physical de-escalation, bystander intervention, and verbal de-escalation. Documented by photographer Zynab Cewalam, the workshop was open to all women and gender-expansive people, and intentionally centered the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of color.


TransLatinx Resilience against COVID-19 documents how the pandemic has impacted transgender and gender nonconforming Latinx immigrants in Queens. For the past year, since the tragic passing of TransLatina activist and icon Lorena Borjas due to COVID-19-related illness, photographer Joana Toro has been documenting the TransLatinx community in Queens. This series focuses on the work of Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo, an organization founded by Borjas in 2015. For over 26 years, Borjas was on the frontlines—fighting for the trans immigrant community in Jackson Heights—to survive and navigate the seemingly insurmountable challenges of ongoing discrimination in employment, homelessness, hate crimes, and poverty. These photographs celebrate the beauty and resilience of a community which has been most severely impacted by loss of life and livelihood caused by the pandemic. The already precarious economic and social position of these women has been aggravated by COVID-19, considering that many of them are beauticians, club performers, or sex workers—professions that have been entirely or partially paralyzed due to the pandemic. The impact of the virus on the TransLatinx community in Queens, New York is under-reported.


The Photoville Festival, New York City’s free premier photo destination, returns on September 18 for its 10th Anniversary year with a free community day, virtual online storytelling events, artist talks, workshops, demonstrations, educational programs, community programming, and open-air exhibitions across parks and public spaces throughout New York City. This annual community festival provides an accessible venue for photographers and audiences from every walk of life to engage with each other, and experience thought-provoking photography from across the globe — with free access for all! Photoville’s 70+ outdoor exhibitions will remain on view through December 1, 2021 so that communities can enjoy them while using these open spaces as a place to recharge, exercise, and relax.


About the Artists


Zynab Cewalam is an Egyptian-American fine art film photographer based in New York City. Her work focuses on portrait-style photography in the most honest way. She is inspired by the softer, empathetic side of humans contrasted with her love for the alluring side of fashion. Cewalam started her career wandering into the fashion world, where she craved more creative direction behind the scenes. Her love for film photography began in the lab room, where she stood alone with her images, developing and printing her work as she envisioned them. She works with Film By Two, which was created to venture into the world of storytelling through different mediums: film photography, digital photography, and filmmaking. Dedicated to creating a world beyond reality while maintaining a sense of realism, Film By Two believes that every story is worth capturing to be remembered.


Joana Toro is a self-taught Colombian photographer based in both New York City and Bogota, Colombia. Her work explores issues of immigration, human rights, and identity and was featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalWorld Press Photo Witness, Open Society Foundations, and Photoword China Magazine, amongst others. She worked as a staff photographer with the major magazines and newspapers in Colombia before she migrated to the United States in 2011 to further her career as a documentarian and artist. In 2019, she published her second monograph, “Hello I Am Kitty” (Tragaluz, Colombia, 2019). “Hello I Am Kitty” was inaugurated in an exhibition at the Tragaluz and Gabriel Garcia Marquez journalism festival in Medellin, Colombia. In 2020 her work was included in the public collection of the Library of Congress in D.C. It has been exhibited in international photo festivals all over the globe: Les Femmes s’exposent in France, Photoville in New York, Guate Photo in Guatemala, Just Another Festival in India, the International Photography Festival in Pingyao, China, and more.


Participating Artists

— Zynab Cewalam

— Joana Toro