With less than one month to go, the exhibit at the Camera Work Gallery shows 25 portraits of “transgender” people. Some of them have modified the vessel they were given from birth, some haven’t; whatever “trans” means nowadays in public opinion, for Bettina Rheims, it’s as close as possible to the etymological root: across, beyond.
Certainly, you can tell by the look in their eyes that those people have been on the other side of the Acheron. Some of them came back, some didn’t. Is that why Bettina chose to photograph them almost as biblical figures? The white background with relief allowing poses inspired by the religious iconography, the styling, white and skin-toned sheer or cut-up materials, evokes a form of purity as well as the exposition they have to deal with: they’ve been thrown to the lions. Desired or rejected, they never go unnoticed.
And as always, with people stirring up violent passions, they’re at the same time owners and victims of this power. And for sure mythical creatures.
Camera Work Gallery
09 November 2012