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Transgender-Themed Art Exhibit Opens in London

Wednesday Feb 22, 2017

London College of Communication (LCC) presents Ken. To be destroyed as part of its public program of events and exhibitions. The exhibition, which is part of the Moose on the Loose Biennale of Research and explores transgender issues in the context of 1950s British marriage, opened on February 17 and will run through Saturday, March 26, and will be accompanied by a series of events, talks and workshops.

The exhibition by Sara Davidmann showcases work that combines original archive material with Davidmann's new work, curated by University of the Arts London (UAL) Professor Val Williams and including collaboration with LCC's Graham Goldwater. This project is supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

Ken. To be destroyed began with an archive and a discovery. Artist and photographer Sara Davidmann and her siblings inherited letters and photographs belonging to her uncle and aunt, Ken and Hazel Houston, from their mother Audrey Davidmann in an envelope she had marked 'Ken. To be destroyed.' It emerged soon after they were married that Ken was transgender. In the context of a British marriage in the 1950s, this inevitably profoundly affected both, their own relationship and their relationships to their social surroundings.

The archive contains letters, photographs and papers. Hazel and Audrey wrote to each other frequently in the late 1950s and early 1960s, after Hazel discovered that Ken was transgender. These letters tell Ken and Hazel's very private story. For the public Ken was a man, but in the privacy of the home Ken was a woman.

Looking at the photographs Davidmann became acutely aware of their surfaces. The marks of time and damage had become part of the images. This led her to work on the surfaces of the photographs she produced using ink, chalks, magic markers and correction fluid. Later works, in which Davidmann has tried to visualize how Ken might have looked as a woman, are fictional photographs made with digital negatives, hand coloring, darkroom chemicals and bleach.

A special event in conjunction with the exhibit will take place on March 7:
The Ken Project Archive
Private View, refreshments and short talk
4.30 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Exhibition Hours:
Tuesdays from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m., other times by appointment

Archive Room, PARCspace, Room W224, London College of Communication, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6SB


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