1980s Trans Portraits by Mariette Pathy Allen at ClampArt, New York

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • March 25, 2021

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© Mariette Pathy Allen, "Vanessa [in a Fur Jacket]," 1978-1989, Vintage dye transfer print from the portfolio “Transformations” (Edition of 50), 22 x 15 inches, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City.

Marie Pathy Allen "Transformations" on View through April 10 at ClampArt


Transformations, Mariette Pathy Allen’s 1980s color portraits of crossdressers, is on view at ClampArt through April 10. It is her first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Mariette Pathy Allen has been photographing the transgender community for over forty years. Through her artistic practice, she has been a pioneering force in gender consciousness, contributing to numerous cultural and academic publications about gender variance and lecturing across the globe. Her first book, published in 1989, was titled Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them (E.P. Dutton, Inc). The publication was groundbreaking in its investigation of a misunderstood community.
The series “Transformations” started with black-and-white images in New Orleans on the last day of Mardi Gras in 1978 when “by fluke, I stayed at the same hotel as a group of crossdressers, one of whom became a friend,” writes Allen. “This chance meeting took me into a mostly closeted world of men who need to express their ‘feminine sides.’ Realizing early on that I had stumbled upon something potentially liberating and almost completely misunderstood, I set out to ‘de-freakify,’ and to offer a different view.”
Allen produced a portfolio of 11 dye transfer prints to coincide with the release of the book, Transformations. The exhibition at ClampArt includes the complete portfolio of color vintage prints, which consists of portraits of crossdressers shot in the 1980s. The same series was exhibited 30 years ago in January 1990 at the Simon Lowinsky Gallery in New York City. ClampArt’s show also includes a selection of black-and-white prints by Allen shot in the same era.

Mariette Pathy Allen’s second book, The Gender Frontier (Kehrer Verlag, 2003) is a collection of photographs, interviews, and essays covering political activism, youth, and the range of people that identify as transgender in the United States. It won the 2004 Lambda Literary Award in the Transgender/Genderqueer category. Other books by the artist include TransCuba (Daylight Books, 2014) and Transcendents: Spirit Mediums in Burma and Thailand (Daylight Books, 2017).
In 2020, Queer|Art, a New York nonprofit dedicated to promoting the work of LGBTQ+ artists, launched a new $10,000 grant for Black trans women artists. The award, called the Illuminations Grant, was developed in collaboration with photographer Mariette Pathy Allen, writer and consultant Aaryn Lang, and multidisciplinary artist Serena Jara. Allen single-handedly endowed the award.
Mariette Pathy Allen’s photographs have been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York City; New York Public Library, New York City; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Reiss-Engelhorn Museum, Frankfurt, Germany; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon; Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France; Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland; McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco, California; Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania; and Museum of Photography, Lishui, China.
Her work will be archived at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s Studies at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. For more, please visit www.mariettepathyallen.com,
ClampArt is located at 247 West 29th Street, Ground Floor New York, NY 10001. For more information please contact +1 646.230.0020 or info@clampart.comwww.clampart.com.  allery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

© Mariette Pathy Allen, “Andy Becoming Andi, near San Francisco,” 1978-1989, Vintage dye transfer print from the portfolio “Transformations” (Edition of 50), 22 x 15 inches, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City.

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