Ken. To be Destroyed Book Signings
Artist Talk and Book Signing, London Alternative Photography Collective, Photofusion, 17A Electric Lane, London SW9 8LA, 7pm 10 May.
Fix Photo 2016, Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London, 12.30 – 2.30pm 14 May.
Photo London, Rizzoli Bookshop, Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA, 5.15 – 6.30pm 21 May.
The Photographers Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW, date tbc.
Borough Wines, Beers and Books, 34 Robertson Street, Hastings TN34 1HT, date tbc.
Pre-publication book launch, part of University of the Arts London Research Fortnight, Typo Café, London College of Communication, Elephant and Castle, London SE16SB, 12-2pm 7 March;
Artist Talk and Book Signing. Schwules Museum, Lützowstraße 73, 10785 Berlin, 7pm 21 April.
KEN. TO BE DESTROYED
Edited by Val Williams
Published by Schilt, Amsterdam, 2016.
This project began with an archive and a discovery. Sara Davidmann and her siblings inherited letters and photographs belonging to her uncle and aunt, Ken and Hazel Houston, from their mother Audrey Davidmann. The letters chronicled the relationship between Ken and Hazel. Hazel had been a dental secretary. Ken practiced as an optician in Edinburgh. 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 with the people around them. They remained together from 1954 to the end of Ken’s life. They had no children.
The archive contains letters, photographs and papers. Hazel and Audrey wrote to each other frequently in the late 1950s and early 60s,after Hazel discovered that Ken was transgender; these letters tell Ken and Hazel’s very private story. Publicly Ken was a man, but in the privacy of the home he was a woman.
In response to the letters and family photographs, Sara Davidmann has produced a new set of photographs using analogue, alternative and digital processes. Looking at the vintage photographs she 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, hand tinting, magic markers and correction fluid. In the series ‘The Dress’, ‘Closer’, ‘Dealt with in Scotland ‘and ‘Looking for K’, Davidmann has created works which interrogate and question the position of art practice within the exploration of archives.
Sara Davidmann has worked with photographic historian and curator Val Williams to create this new publication, which combines original archive material with Sara’s new work and in so doing tells a remarkable tale.
‘Ken. To be destroyed’ is on exhibition at the Schwules Museum, Berlin, co-curated by Val Williams and Robin Christian.
Sara Davidmann is an artist/photographer. For over fifteen years she has taken photographs and recorded oral histories in collaboration with people from UK transgender and queer communities. Sara’s work is internationally exhibited and published. Sara’s project, Ken. To be destroyed, edited by Val Williams, is published by Schilt (2016). Ken. To be destroyed is on show at Schwules Museum Berlin March-June 2016, co-curated by Val Williams and Robin Christian. It was previously exhibited at Museum of Liverpool (2014); Limewharf Gallery (2014); PARCspace, UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (2014) and at the Unity Theatre for Homotopia’s 10th Anniversary Arts Festival, Liverpool (2013). Exhibitions include Trans*_Homo Schwules Museum Berlin (2012), In/Visible Genders LGBT Centre Paris (2009), Somatechnics Sydney (2009), Transfabulous London (2007). Publications include Crossing the Line, Dewi Lewis (2003), and she was guest co-editor of a Journal of Photography & Culture Special Issue Queering Photography (2014). She contributed a book chapter to Transgender Experience Routledge (2014) and co-authored a journal article Queering the Trans Family Album, Radical History Review (2015). She has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Philip Leverhulme Prize, Fulbright Hays Scholarship, four AHRC awards, an Association of Commonwealth Universities Fellowship and a Welcome Trust Small Grant. Sara is a Senior Research Fellow in Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London (UAL) and a member of the UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC).
Val Williams is a writer and curator, and Director of the University of the Arts London Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) at London College of Communication. She is UAL Professor of the History and Culture of Photography and a founder and co-editor of the Journal of Photography & Culture. She is Director of the Moose on the Loose Biennale of Research. Val’s research has focussed on the history of women in photography, post-war British photography and contemporary photography. Book projects include Martin Parr: Photographic Works (2012/2014); Sune Jonsson, Life and Work (2014); Daniel Meadows Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80s (2011); Anna Fox: Photographs 1983-2007 (2007). Exhibition curation includes Soho Archive/Soho at Night for the Photographers Gallery in 2008/9;How We Are: Photographing Britain, Tate Britain, London, UK (2007); Martin Parr: Photographic Work 1970-2000, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK (2002); The Dead, National Media Museum, Bradford, UK (1995); Who’s Looking at the Family, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK, (1994); Warworks: Women, Photography and the Iconography of War, V&A, London, UK (1994).
Val’s archive was recently acquired by the Library of Birmingham and she is currently working on a major collaborative research project on the photography of the British seaside.