Upon completing shooting and editing final photos I met with Jonathon Worth to decide what images would be displayed at the exhibition. We decided that the more subtle and ambiguous images were the most effective. They seem to elevate the subjects being depicted, who are still a part of a marginalized and stigmatized section of society, as dignified, comfortable and beautiful human beings. Below are the final images we selected as well as the initial layout plan for the exhibition.
Exhibition Initial Layout Idea
Once these somewhat crucial decisions had been made about the images which would be featured at IMG19 as well as their delivery I headed over to Wolverhampton to have the images printed. Unfortunately, the prints that I had originally paid for have not yet been completed. In a panic I asked for Dark Lens for advice who managed to get the images printed for me by a friend. The prints are not as strong, paper quality not as good and colours not as apt to the digital versions. However, they got here in time for installation which is perhaps the most important thing. Originally, I thought it would be nice just to have my final images mounted and on thick textured paper. However, due to the prints not being as good a standard as initially anticipated I decided to frame them. Having looked at images of legendary Ryan McGinley’s exhibition layouts, I decided slim black frames would best showcase my work. So once I had my prints I went to the Range and bought 12 frames.
Another aspect which was necessary in displaying my work at the exhibition was to create a text panel explaining my work.
Gender is“a stylized repetition of acts . . . which are internally discontinuous . . .[so that] the appearance of substance is precisely that, a constructed identity, a performative accomplishment which the mundane social audience, including the actors themselves, come to believe and to perform in the mode of belief” (Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, 1990)
To say that gender is ‘performative’ is to argue that gender is “real only to the extent that it is performed”. We all walk, talk and act in ways, which consolidate an impression of being masculine or feminine. Gender is nuanced and exists in multiple forms within any given person.
Gender Bender depicts drag artists, those who perform as the opposite sex, transsexuals, men that have become women and vice versa, transgendered individuals, those who emotionally and psychologically feel that they belong to the opposite sex and individuals that prefer not to choose a sex and exist as both, adopting a dual identity. All attest to the ‘performative’ nature of gender and reinforce the fluidity of gender.
Upon reflection I feel my text panel should have been far more concise and simple. Its quite a lot of text to expect my viewers to read but I wanted to offer some context into the research and ideas that are behind the project.
Once I had my prints and frames, I packaged them and headed over to Lanchester Gallery on the 28th May. Due to work and being very ill I was unable to fully participate in other aspects of setting up and preparing the exhibition. Nonetheless, I got my work on the walls and helped clean up after. Initially, I thought my images would appear 4×3, 4 pictures across and 3 down. However, I had more space than anticipated. Therefore, I re-worked the initial plan and decided that my images would appear in 2 rows of 6. I actually feel this worked out a lot better and more closely resembles the exhibition space of Ryan McGinley’s for his series, ” Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” which I had been deeply inspired (above).
As a result and with the help of a friend we began to draw up and calculate a new plan, so the frames appear straight and precise (unlike the individuals depicted which is exactly my point). Once I marked out where the drilling and screws would need to be fixed me and my friend got started. As the wall was a plasterboard wall I had to run and get plasplugs than screw into them (yes I learned some DIY). This was a quick process to my surprise. Upon completion I began unwrapping my frames. I had to wipe down, remove and re-enter some of the images in the frames as dust and other bits were found lurking about! I than began hanging my frames. Once I had done so I noticed that a few of the frames were slightly off, made worse by the odd lighting, which created shadows in and around the frames. To get round this and to avoid having to start over, I used blue tack to re-arrange some of the frames, which worked quite well. Below are some behind the scene photos from the installation process.
As a member of the marketing team I shared images of the installation process on Facebook and Twitter, whilst also promoting the event and encouraging people to come to come pay us a visit.
Unfortunately on opening night I had work until 6.30pm which meant I was slightly late and couldn’t help prepare the space beforehand. However, it was a resounding success and attracted a large number of people which is really encouraging. I found the experience quite awkward and having people ask about your work is also very strange. Something I wasn’t really expecting. Since opening night people have contacted me via social networks complimenting me on “Gender Bender” as well as encouraging me to keep in going. The exhibition has made me realise that whilst university is coming to an end, these images can continue. Again I shared images from the night online.
However the following video created by Chris Trafford which shows the development of the exhibition as well as opening night captures the entire IMG19 experience far more aptly.
After Opening Night
I have continued to share my works online and have also covered shifts at the gallery. Today (3rd June 2014) I worked 10am-2pm with Tania and Alex. The gallery attracted a lot of people which was really nice to see and it was a good experience presenting myself as a professional and soon to be graduate of Coventry University.