contemporary rituals, quantum realities, queered spaces

ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS is a Queer art collective. We are Chris Gylee and Aslan and we have been living our lives together and making artwork together for more than a decade. Our practice is multidisciplinary with a strong emphasis on writing and live performance and involves elements of publication, installation, and curation. Our work to date has taken us on a journey to understand how art maps out unexpected futures and shines a light on less commonly told stories, thereby helping us imagine different and new ways of being in the world. It has become our passion to imagine and transmit stories of Queer futures and Queer ruralities that help us understand how the world is, how it got that way, and how it could be different. Our artworks are maps to Utopias, Dystopias, Dreamworlds and Dark Fantasies. Each of these quantum realities teaches us what it can mean to be Queer in the world and is a loving act of recording, recreating, and reimagining a Queer history and heritage that is constantly being erased by dominant culture.

Portrait: Óscar González, October 2023
Email: info[at]
Instagram: @oncewewereislands
Newsletter: sign up here

ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS are members of LAFT Berlin e.V.

In 2024 and 2025, ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS are supported by Kone Foundation for the constellation artwork With Forests in Our Mouths.