- Name: Mikael De Geyter / Puki Harana
- Performance artist / Choreographer / Dancer / Drag Artist
- Pronouns: they/them
- Age: 26
- Location: Brussels
- Instagram: @itsmikaeldg and @puki.harana
What do you care most about, and how is it relevant to your art/practice? It could be a social issue, your community, yourself, or anything!
It’s hard to pick just one thing, everything is connected. But the overall focus is my self-expression, mental health & safe space. My art and practice are inspired and fueled by Queer Life, the freedom, the expression but also the pain and trauma. Using art as the medium to tell the story and connect with the community, is my safe space, to always have my back when I’m performing this outside of my comfort zone, as a way to expose and educate those who don’t relate to our community.
Three words that come to mind when you hear the term ‘care’?
Self-care, taking care of my being, body and soul. Love is to care for someone and express it. Sacrifice, prioritising stuff before others out of care for a higher goal.
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What inspires you to care more for others, or to use your art/practice as a platform to do so?
What started inspiring me to care for others, was the positive feedback I received, telling me; they look up to me. Being a role model for them and showcasing representation for all the intersections of society I belong to. Being a person I never had when growing up.
How do you hope to inspire others?
My goal to inspire others is to do it unintentionally. With everything I put out there, in the first place I do it for myself. My art is a love letter to and about my inner child, its joys and its pains. And if this can help others to relate and inspire, it would be an honour. I found myself through art, to reclaim my being, body and soul and I hope this could show others they can do this too.
What type of change do you want to inspire in your community/environment?
Towards my community, there is not much change I necessarily want to imply. A message I will always stand by is to love yourself and to allow yourself to be loved and accepted by others. The change I want to focus on lays outside of our community. To make our voices and stories be heard, our presence and expression validated and to give representation and normalization of our community in this society.
How much influence do you think (y)our backgrounds have on (y)our art and practices?
In my personal opinion, I think our backgrounds are a driving force behind our art and practices. As an inspiration and foundation to start our creation, but also as an escape, in- or unintentional. To step outside of our being and become something different.
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What are some challenges that you face while doing what you are passionate about?
As my art is a way to process trauma, it can trigger a lot of internal struggles and anxiety, while going through the process of creating and sometimes even when performing.
How do you define ‘community’?
Community for me is a social concept and gathering of people with similar backgrounds, experiences, expressions and/or interests. A place where you feel seen and understood.
What is a ‘safe space’ for you?
A safe space for me is a place where I can be authentically myself and where I’m not just tolerated but accepted and respected. Not everyone needs to understand me, just like I won’t be able to understand everyone, but there’s always mutual respect and care for each other's presence and being.
Is receiving care a privilege, a right?
Receiving care should be a right for everyone but unfortunately, it’s a privilege at the moment.
Do you think this generation is redefining care and community building? And how?
Community building and taking care are being redefined, mainly through the help of social media. This new platform makes it a lot easier to connect with like-minded people and bring them together. Showing care not only in real life but also online by sharing and exposing what you put out there to their followers and bringing attention to specific needs.
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What small acts of care do you hope to see more of?
A small act of care I would love to see more of is genuinely asking someone how they are doing.
‘Hey, how’s it going?’ has become a casual way of greeting and not an actual question, whenever you pass someone in the street. Personally receiving the question ‘How’s it going?’, gives me anxiety because I don’t know where to go with it. The question is too open. Narrowing it down and asking for specifics like how your day has been or how is your project coming along, really show care and interest in what you have done or are doing.
How do you balance taking care of others and taking care of yourself? Do you make that distinction in the first place?
There is a distinction for me. For years I have pushed my own needs aside to please others out of trauma responses. But that’s something I won’t be doing anymore. Taking care of myself will always have a priority. I will always take care of others too, but making sure I’m in a secure spot physically and mentally before I get myself into it.
Taking care of myself will always have a priority
Do you care about being cared about?
Honestly, I don’t. Of course, it’s always a blessing to be cared for and I will always be appreciative of it, but it’s not something I rely on. My whole life I had to deal with rejection and exclusion, which taught me to always rely on myself, be independent and chase the things I need and desire, without the approval or justification of others.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for my dedication and determination to achieve my skills. The hard work I’ve put into my craft as an artist. I don’t like it when people tell me I’m talented because talent can only take you this far. Prioritising and sacrificing things to work hard and perfect your art deserves more appreciation.
I want to be remembered for my dedication and determination to achieve my skills
<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> Photos by @sevo.visuals </div></div>