Ten’s To See: ‘Hen’ by Bex Day at the Herrick Gallery
When she coined the term “gender performativity” in 1990, philosopher Judith Butler clearly anticipated the move towards understanding the social conditioning of sex. At the time, the focus was on feminism and the way women’s roles in our society were crafted out of some old-fashioned ideas about what it means to be female. Today, that same phrase expands in its meaning, as the binary limitations of genders (finally) move on to something a bit more understanding of the colourful world we live in. But how did the past understanding influence the future? That’s where Bex Day comes in. The 26-year-old self-taught fashion and documentary photographer has looked at the ways the trans and non-binary communities have been affected by the modern-day feminism and gender stereotypes.
As part of her project Hen (a gender-neutral pronoun in Swedish), Day captured 40 subjects over the age of 40, all members of the community, in a visual study of individuals and their stories. Intimate photographs of people in their own world are an opportunity for these people to express their unique voices along with a sense of pride. Without growing up with social media and an instant way of expressing themselves, this is a community that is so often bumped to the fringe by trying to be fitted into the alienating classifications of our society. Opening today, an exhibition carrying the name of the project is launching at the Herrick Gallery in London for a seven day run. Reflecting the real narratives of her subjects, the photographs and the documentary on show are not just stories of beauty and happiness. There are bittersweet moments, ones that enlighten the audience into understanding the world further than what is on show. Inspirational and emotionally moving, this exhibition is a take on of the world we live you don’t always get to see. Marking yesterday’s International Transgender day of Visibility as both a privilege and a necessity, Hen is your obligatory literature – don’t miss out.
‘Hen’ by Bex Day is on show until April 7 at the Herrick Gallery in London, W1J 7NQ. The project is still raising money for the exhibition – you can support it via Indiegogo. The exhibition’s partners are Stonewall Housing and Press For Change charities, Puck Studio, Chan Photographic Imaging, Old Blue Last Beer, Art Rabbit and Ray’s Glass and Frames. ‘Hen’ is curated and produced by Sandrine Servent at Mina Raven and William Esdale.