Alima Lee portrait Dazed 100
Alima LeeAlima Lee
“I would make a film focusing on my own community, followed by a group show involving creatives around me

Alima Lee

Age - 30
 Los Angeles, United States
Alima Lee
“I would make a film focusing on my own community, followed by a group show involving creatives around me

Being unapologetically black, queer, and femme colours multidisciplinary artist Alima Lee’s work in fascinating ways. Viewing the world through the filmmaker’s textured, intimate, analogue lens, soundtracked by meaningful lyrics or heartfelt prose, is an overwhelmingly beautiful experience – as seen in Dazed 100 alum Kelsey Lu’s “I’m Not in Love” music video. There’s an electric thread woven through the New York-born, LA-based creative’s output; “I have dedicated my art and film practice to those who are overlooked and for lives not often valued, because we need to be seen to be safe,” explains Lee. 

Their complementary work as a designer and curator – tackling themes of identity and intersectionality in shows like “Notes on Intimacy”, – reflects that. Lee is also DJ of NTS show “Rave Reparations”, and a Frieze x Ghetto Film School Fellow, with screenings at the ICA, Tate Modern, MOCA, and more. They’re currently creating a self-funded series of cyanotype prints based on a short film that will become a book. Their ultimate goal? “I would like to show everyone that there is beauty in places that may go overlooked so that they have the chance to understand it and change their points of view.”

How did you start doing the work you do, and what inspires it?

Alima Lee: I began making art because I quickly realised that it is my only mode of survival. My mother is a director and producer, who started her own production company aged 23, but she made her last film around the time I was born. She was in an abusive relationship with my father, who ended up sabotaging her career, so I have dedicated my film and art practice to her and all of the black/afrolatinx femmes who have been told that this is not a viable career path. I am truly struggling most of the time but the legacy of my mother and the stories I need to tell keeps me going.

What issues or causes are you passionate about and why? 

Alima Lee: I advocate for black queer femmes, one of the most disrespected groups of people in the entire world, first and foremost. I make work for us, showing that we are here, we are worthy of love, joy, and happiness, and we deserve to be seen as the radiant figures that we are. I was raised by my gay Puerto Rican grandma in NYC and I learned about the world from a perspective that taught me I can never be silent. I also actively advocate for LGBTQ+ folks, intersectional feminism, and trans rights, as well as fighting stigma against HIV/AIDS, and addressing the ableism and sexism that plagues communities worldwide.  

“I began making art because I quickly realised that it is my only mode of survival” – Alima Lee

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, and/or your community?

Alima Lee: It has been absolutely devastating. In the first few days I remember losing three well-paying gigs all within a few hours. Then it was like a complete domino effect. I lost all of my work for the foreseeable future thus having to choose between paying bills and buying food. Thank God I was able to adapt my art practice to recreating installation pieces for the home so i got a few commissions to sustain me for the next month. However a lot of my friends and folks in my community have not been able to adapt. An entire house of creatives I am close with are all having to leave LA and move back home because life here is no longer sustainable. This whole thing has become an absolute nightmare and it is so sobering to see how many of us are constantly on the edge of poverty. It breaks my heart to see so much fall apart so quickly, I am just trying to keep my mental health.

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Alima Lee: With such a blessing, I would make a film focusing on my own community and employ incredible creatives to make it happen. I often intersect my art and film practice so I would love to curate a group show surrounding the film project and fund commissions for the show to truly support the amazing artists around me. I believe this could be an incredibly impactful project. 

Felicia Pennant

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