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Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre: To Survive on This Shore

Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults

On View:
Wednesday, January 23, 2019 — Sunday, April 28, 2019


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For over five years, Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States seeking subjects whose experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location. They moved from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of this important but largely underrepresented group of older adults. The featured individuals have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last ninety years, offering an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States.

While Dugan’s earlier work focused on issues of identity, gender, and sexuality—and often on LGBTQ communities specifically—this is her first body of work that focuses on older adults, a result of her collaboration with Fabbre. Dugan’s portraits are open and emotive, utilizing direct eye contact to facilitate a meaningful exchange between subject and viewer. For the accompanying texts, Fabbre provides selections of full-length interviews to enhance the viewer’s connection to each subject’s story. The resulting exhibition provides a nuanced view into the struggles and joys of growing older as a transgender person and offer a poignant reflection on what it means to live authentically despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

A companion publication, To Survive on This Shore was recently published as a hardcover book by Kehrer Verlag. 

Exhibition organized by Barrett Barrera Projects.

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Image caption: Caprice, 55, Chicago, IL [detail], 2015, Image courtesy of projects+gallery and Jess T. Dugan.

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