Mai is a make-up artist with a degree from the Theaterakademie. Since graduating in September last year, Mai has been working on independent projects with queer feminist approaches. “I'd describe my craft as art because in my design, I'm in control of how I stage and portray things and how I break down binary images to make queerness visible.” Mai also works at a theater on the side, where they are trying to take a traditional space and incorporate their art. “I think it's important to take back some of that space, and thus make society a bit more of a safe space.” Mai's goal is to break the norms, accustoming the eye to different and new things.
Due to the pandemic, film and theater projects came to a hold or were even canceled completely. “Every day, you feel this uncertainty, which also means financial loss and worries about the future. For one project, we weren't even able to document it for our portfolio.” But the pandemic also had some positive aspects as Mai was able to explore new directions: “In the first lockdown, I discovered body painting. I felt like working with a brush and didn't want to lose sight of form and color. Unfortunately, we couldn't let people get close to each other due to the social restrictions, so I started using my own body.” In spring, Mai is giving a workshop at their school back home and wants to combine this with topics like bodily sensation and perception as well as self-protection.
Mai moved to Munich almost 4 years ago for their studies. It was the Theaterakademie and its interdisciplinary concept that brought Mai here. “The Akademie offers different degree programmes that all work together on stage.” At first, Mai had little interest in Munich as a whole. “By now, however, I've got my friends who give me support and security.” Mai does not feel represented in the local LGBTQIA+ community since it lacks the safe spaces that include Mai as a non-binary person. “I’d like to see spaces where all people from the community can come together and share. Not spaces where people look for sex, but for exchanges of different realities of life.”
Mai does not want to give a definitive answer about what being queer means to them: Mai sees queerness as an umbrella term for many things. Not only for sexuality, but also for political views: “I find it difficult to define it. I tend to look for definitions, but every time I realize: I don't want that. I want to free myself from categories. Queer is what I can relate to or feel comfortable under most because it's more than just an orientation for me.” For the future, Mai wishes that queer productions, projects and their teams have better financial support and do not have to work with such limited budgets, as is usually the case. “I wish that I'll be able to address issues in traditional spaces and be met with openness. And that I feel comfortable and feel taken seriously.”