The work “Ken. To be destroyed.” by Sarah Davidmann was a poignant project following the discovery of two sets of letters written by two sisters Audrey and Hazel and by husband and wife Hazel and Ken. The title for the project is taken from the writing on the brown packaging in which Sarah and her family found the letters. The letters revealed that Ken was transgender. Ken and Hazel married in 1954 and Hazel discovered Ken was transgender in 1958. The letters were supportive and non-judgmental. The letters and the family albums survived a number of house moves. Ken took many photographs of his wife Hazel who was a glamorous woman. Ken in turn connected with the images of Hazel – allowing him, through Hazel, to be himself. Ken was a woman at home and outside the home was a man. Sarah’s work was exhibited at the London College of Communication and she also produced an accompanying book:
Many of the images are scanned (some very large) collages made from teared prints that Sarah recreated, and hand-coloured on black and white prints. She also produced fictional photographs such as the ones below with Ken depicted as a woman:
Sarah’s work is fascinating in terms of the family story attempting to come to terms with the challenges of transgender in an era where little support was in place. She spoke about the fact that family albums and memorabilia often edit out the transgenderism within their families. I was particularly struck by the poignant way in which Sarah recounted her family’s story and how moved she was by Ken’s life and story.
I then watched the two presentations by Christiane Monarchi, founding editor of Photomonitor.
She set up the on-line platform in 2011 – a magazine covering the UK and Ireland. After five years the magazine has over 200 contributors and 6,000 visitors per month. She referred to previous magazines no longer in print such as pluk, Portfolio Magazine and Artlyst, none of which comprehensively covered her vision of information, articles, exhibition lists, reviews across the UK and Ireland (with a number choosing a more international coverage and audience). It is a hugely useful resource and includes exhibitions on photography being held right across the UK. The business model is that organisations and individuals pay for the listings on the website and the revenue from this pays for the features. Christiane spoke about her wish to review lesser known books, self-published books and to list small galleries where people can see photography. My sense was that she was wanting to make photography more accessible to everyone.
The second part of Christiane’s talk was about working with galleries and entering photography competitions which was very practical and helpful. She spoke about object quality and the continuum from a low-cost production value model to a handcrafted object. She also talked about the longevity of an object and the expectations of galleries in this respect. I found her comments on editions and pricing very helpful as I am starting to sell my work. She suggested that the trend in the market is for photographers to produce very small edition runs (10 or less) with differential pricing (1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10) as numbers available reduce. She suggested that a way to start was to price prints low, attract collectors and “give yourself room to grow”. The last of the edition and/or the artists proof would have a higher price. She encouraged us to ensure we had a one-page Artists Statement with a series of work statements describing particular projects whereas our CV should only live on-line. She also suggested that “exchange of writing” within the student peer group may be helpful.
She encouraged us to enter photography competitions because even though we may not win its gives exposure to our work. She also suggested that an exhibition with an accompanying book was a good idea. Also, self-publishing a small book or zine and giving it away.
I found both parts of Christiane’s presentation very helpful as I start to think about developing my photography post MA.