Thursday, September 23, 2010
A Series of Questions
This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender-variant, and/or gender non-conforming people.
Many documentary photographic projects that deal with trans issues exploit the genders of their subjects, pointing to an "otherness" or inappropriately exoticizing their bodies. "A Series of Questions" seeks instead to make visible the transphobia and gender-baiting that can become part of everyday interactions and lives, forming a fuller picture of the various lived experiences. In so doing, this work contrasts with the dehumanizing approaches that predominate the images made of transgender and transsexual people, which often focus solely on their trans status or use them to further a specific point about social construction and gender.
The subjects, self-identified people of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender-variant, or gender non-conforming experience, hold signs depicting questions that each has had posed to them personally-- some by strangers, others by loved ones, friends, or colleagues. Presented on white wooden boards, the questions are turned on the viewer, shifting the dynamics under which they were originally asked, and prompting the viewer to cast a reflective, self-critical eye upon him or herself, revealing how invasive this frame of reference can be.
As a greater number of subjects and questions are accumulated, a relentless conversation of questioning emerges. Presented together in democratic, square format, the images show how each question relates to the next, directing attention not on the backgrounds of the transgender and transsexual subjects, but on the dynamics at work in these conversations. I am interested in uncovering the typology of these questions, discovering what categories of questions emerge as the script of power dynamics and interrogation is flipped.