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Bishakh Som Explores Gender, Sexuality, Memory and Urbanism

Published on March 10, 2020

Bishakh Som Explores Gender, Sexuality, Memory and Urbanism

Bishakh Som

Bishakh Som and Professor James Holland.

New York-based artist and writer Bishakh Som visited Eastern Connecticut State University on March 5 to read from her upcoming comic book “Apsara Engine,” which is set to go on sale on April 14. After the reading, Theater Professor James Holland facilitated a discussion on Som’s work and her illustrative and writing processes.

For the reading Som chose her short story titled “Love Song,” one of the eight short stories to be featured in the upcoming comic book. Room lights were dimmed in the Student Center Theatre as Som’s comic was projected onto the screen. Reading from the screen, she paced her words as she hoped her readers would consume them slowly and deliberately.

Having worked on “Love Song” for more than a decade, Som noted that the text and illustrations do not have any direct connections as readers may expect. Som contrasted it to movies where the narration tells the story of the actions being visualized. In her comic book the illustrations and text tell two different stories that live parallel to each other in time.

Commenting on topics such as gender, sexuality, memory, urbanism and culture through her stories Som said she wanted to highlight the concepts of portals, gateways and possible universes. “Queer and trans people create cultures to supplant other cultures in which they are not welcomed into or don’t even want to participate in,” said Som. “I was trying to get at that idea and transpose that into drawing as a way to create a new culture.”

Som also compared her comics to how queer people create scenarios or alternative settings that they often see as essential to their existence.  “It is similar to how queer people as an act of survival imagine the worlds that they want to inhabit, not necessarily as oppositions, but in parallel with other ways of life and thinking.”

If you’d like to learn more about Som and her work check out her website at, “Apsara Engine” is also now available for pre-order at

Written by Vania Galicia