Summers for me are a period of self-transformation. Often masked as an idling of time, I have come to understand the heat as humbling, the humidity as a guide, an excuse to slow down and reflect on where I went, who I was, and who I want to be by the end of it all, come August. I can’t be anyone else in the summer, I can only exist on a temporal plane where time isn’t what propels me forward so much as traveling does, or stoop conversations with friends. Being Bare, is a moment of triumph, a coming alive that only happens when you listen to what the world is telling you, when you shift from subject to witness.

To see is to remember, to remember means to listen, and to listen you must believe. How do you make visible something that lives in the hearts of many as inconsequential? William H. Gass writes, in Representation & The War for Reality, “It became fashionable to describe existence as a relation between things, and not a thing of property itself; it was a condition,” and continues, “Existence is infinitely, randomly, pointlessly changeable; yet, although it does change constantly, we insist on seeing the same face in our mirror or across the breakfast table, our eyes sew up all the holes in our clothes; habits like a healthy heartbeat are never heard; we live in the comfortable communities of cliché.”

Being a minority is not something I think about as often as I do my youth and the freedom I had before I possessed a knowing. As a child, I wasn’t thinking about being black or gay. They were merely attributes of my character, the bedrock. My identity, to me, was not made a marker or reflection of my success or what I could achieve. I simply liked what I liked, dared when I dared, and thrived at what I felt to be most worthy of my time. I was fearless, blanketed with the realism my mom fed me at the time, unbeknownst to me, which has comforted me since, and yet I remained fearful of all the things that I didn’t yet know that I couldn’t know until I knew it in my own way.

Where do you disappear to when you can’t see or feel yourself in the world? In a society, where everything is a political gesture, we have to move past representational antics that flatten or reduce the nuances of who we are and explore our desires independent of our race. How do you know if you are living a life? You possess an undeniable will, consciousness, and a knowing, independent and dependent of where you are from. Summer isn’t the only time for transformation.


about the author:
Emmanuel Olunkwa is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently pursuing a masters at the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices.