The American photographer Jess T. Dugan radiographs a group rarely represented in culture and art, such as transgender older adults, in a show that opened this Saturday at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami.
The exhibition “To Survive on This Shore”, the result of a five-year research project with her spouse, social worker and academic Vanessa Fabbre, offers a series of portraits of transgender or “non-conformist” people, older of 50 years and that were registered throughout the country.
Both had noted the lack of representation of these older adults, “directly responsible for the progress around gender and sexuality” that is lived today, as the photographer says in statements to Efe, and therefore discovered the need to preserve their stories for the new generations.
“We had heard of younger transgender people who had never seen images of transgender seniors and they lacked a roadmap about what their life would look like as they got older,” added Dugan, whose work explores aspects such as gender, sexuality and identity.
The exhibition inaugurated at the art center, which is integrated into the Florida International University (FIU), is the first time that the project is exhibited in a museum and in that sense expands the objectives of generating greater awareness around the problems faced by transgender older adults.
“I think photography, and storytelling through photography, is a powerful medium for education, and once you get to know someone’s story, it’s much harder to discriminate,” said Dugan, who discovered photography. at age 16 and, he says, since then he intensified his activism for the cause of the LGBT community.
The exhibition, which is accompanied by texts that capture the interviews made by Fabbre to those who appear in the portraits, is made up of emotive photographs in which many of its protagonists look at the camera and give clues to the “complex intersections” by which they transit their lives.
The images, which evoke “a significant exchange between subject and spectator”, offer a look at what it means to “grow old as a transgender person” and at the same time “live authentically despite the seemingly insurmountable odds” of achieving it, according to the press release
The photographer recognizes that nowadays a long way has gone by in terms of representation of this group, very different from when she defined herself as a “queer” person at the age of 13 and there were not many images in the media I could identify.
“There are now many more representations of ‘queer’ people in traditional media,” says Dugan, who throughout his career has exhibited at institutions such as Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery or the Museum of Contemporary Photography or the Museum of Fine Arts. , in Boston.
The photographer and her partner want to take the project beyond the art environment and today, she says, they work with non-profit organizations to “develop training modules that can be used for education in nursing homes and centers that serve to elderly people. “
The exhibition at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, which will remain on display until April 28, is in line with FIU’s vision of addressing through education the “challenges of our time,” as he pointed out. Efe the director of the museum, Jordana Pomeroy.
He added that both the portraits of Dugan and the “persuasive interviews” of Vanessa Fabbre, “provide a powerful experience” for the viewer, and give life to the story of each person photographed.(EFE.USA)