Explore the digital archive that expands on Xime Izquierdo Ugaz ongoing series of photo portraits of their queer chosen family, and features over forty images accompanied by text and audio testimonies. Created in collaboration between the photographer and the sitters, se que fue así porque estuve allí (I Know It Was So, I Was There) forms a poetic and intimate perspective of a community, who is able to tell their own stories in their own voices.
Growing up my mom wouldn’t let anyone sit on my bed. She said it was a sacred place. When friends came over we would have to sit in the living room with her watching nearby. As I grew, it became clear to me how differently we felt about sacredness. As a teenager looking for mirrors, searching for family, I lived in many homes. For a long time, I was too shy to take photographs of the people around me. I took lots of pictures of our things, the living room my roommates and I shared, the bathroom where we got ready to face a world that hated us, kitchens, beds, windows.
Almost 3 years ago, I started taking portraits of my chosen family. It started as an archive for me, to remind myself of the incredible beings that have surrounded me, nurtured me and loved me in ways that I sometimes wasn’t even ready for. I started asking if I could take my fam’s portraits. It’s a big responsibility you see, to capture a second of those that have been your siblings and your mothers when you were still trying to figure out what family meant.
Photography has a history and a present of being used as a tool for surveillance of Black and Brown people, and we have a duty to countersurveille. In a moment in which extraction and death is so present in our communities, this series has been my way to document the everydayness of our lives and our resilience, and to showcase the beauty that I see in my most intimate moments with all of my fierce, gorgeous, Black & Brown, queer and trans kin. In the following portraits you will hear and read the voices of everyone in first person, they were asked to respond to the prompt, “how would you describe the person in this portrait?”
This is a love letter to us, to my chosen family as the universes that they each are, in our lifetime. It is our lives that are sacred, the ways in which we see ourselves, and each other, the ways we allow ourselves to just be. I see every portrait in this series as a portrait of myself as well, because I was there.