Written by Julia Nakashwa Hango
My name is Julia Nakashwa Hango. I go by Juliana or JuliART. I am a self-taught nude photographer or as I would have it: a nude art photo-visualist, a media practitioner and enthusiast, a mother of one very special one year old, as well as an aspiring abstract performance artist. I am 22 years of age and a passionate Virgo rooster.
Usually people make their names shorter but somehow I have managed to make mine longer. I am named after my mother, all three of my names she has. My mother and I never quite had a stable relationship, I always thought it was because she didn’t love me but I realize it’s because we are two very different people and she didn’t quite want children at the age of 16 (being a free spirit and coming from a lenient Oshiwambo family of a single mother who left her lazy husband to be an independent single power force).
I took my mom to family court for emotional and verbal abuse at 16 and moved out with my then, older lesbian lover. I didn’t quite understand why she was so cold and un-understanding to her own child. Then again, I was also going through my breakout puberty phase where, I suppose, at that age you want things going your way but it never quite does. I have always had an issue with my real name – ‘Julia’. I guess it reminded me too much of how similar I am to my mom. Or maybe it just reminded me of the room inside her womb where I lived for nine months making us very much one.
Every time someone asked what my name was, I would have a moment of sheer panic and in those moments I felt further away from my truth, than I would have liked or thought was even possible. Without seeming important, I recover and blurt out an alias, a name I thought said more about me, a name closer to the person I was in that made up moment. And it wasn’t yet the insecure me that stood before this person.
Sometimes I think about why I did that or still do that (this time consciously knowing and understanding my path and fully embracing my contradictory nature). By having an alias I am more comfortable hiding behind than simply laying my bare self-truth out into the world. I mean – it’s only a name right? Each time I begin to think about the fear I felt as a child in school, on the street, at home, inside me. That fear begins with a single thought or feeling of my dear mother, the home where I never felt at home.
As an adult I have found ways to deal with not belonging, not feeling good enough for my mother to the extent that I have begun and merely begun to heal, forgive and most importantly accept her truth and her circumstances. This is not as easy as I make it sound, frankly it’s one of the hardest things to process and to do. But it doesn’t seem quite as hard when one is lubricated on the inside with a little bit of the magic grass that opens your mind to eternity and it doesn’t quite seem important when your beliefs and truths are shape shifting into something strange and wonderful. Being a mother has opened a new understanding of the world, myself and my relationship with my mother, a new kind of love for her, maybe even a much purer kind of love.
My daughter is my life. Saying this and fully being aware that every mother says this and it’s not always necessarily the truth but sometimes rather a wish for your child to really be the center of your universe over the many daily human distractions, thoughts, doubts and lustings that we experience and convincing yourself of this when you feel slightly guilty for perhaps seeming like a bad mother. But my little angel has come to set me on a loving and understanding path of compassion and spirituality.
Before I had a child I remember everyone always said how hard having one is and possibly the end of your life. So after having one, I strongly have to disagree. Becoming a mother has mostly set me free and has taught me to live in every moment, play as much as I can. Nothing matters but love and that it’s really okay to be vulnerable. I never wanted to be a mother, kids scared me, their innocence is terrifyingly fragile. I could never want to be responsible for keeping it safe and maybe that was a choice I made because of my relationship with mine, if mine had such a hard time showing me love, how could I possibly ever know how to if i ever had one?! But just my luck, my little Autumn-rain chose me to learn/do just that. And I’ll forever be grateful to her for that. We all have our journeys of self-doubt and insecurities. Simply let go and let live. I am Julia Hango and I am not my Mother.
These are a few of my favourite things:
Lieve Prins. Alva Bernadine. Monica Cook. (Also really into old school adult film posters like high priestess, sexual witchcraft from the 1900s), Betty Tompkins. Egon Schiele. I love Hi-Fructose Magazine. Jiri Ruzek. Illusion Magazine. Philbert Photography. Ukrainian photographer, Natalia Mukha. Helmut Newton. One of my all time favorites: Olivier Valsecchi. Joel-Peter Witkin.