Ken. To be destroyed

Thursday 16 February: Private View and book signing: 6-8pm. Open to all, everyone welcome.
Exhibition open: 17 February to 24 March 2017
Admission free.

“Ken. To be destroyed” began with an archive and a discovery. Artist and photographer Sara Davidmann and her siblings inherited letters and photographs belonging to her uncle and aunt, Ken and Hazel Houston, from their mother Audrey Davidmann. 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 to their social surroundings.

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. For the public Ken was a man, but in the privacy of the home Ken was a woman.

Looking at the vintage photographs Davidmann 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, magic markers and correction fluid. Later works, in which Sara Davidmann has tried to visualize how Ken might have looked as a woman, are fictional photographs made with digital negatives, hand colouring, darkroom chemicals and bleach.

Sara Davidmann has worked with Professor Val Williams, Director of the University of the Arts London’s Photography and the Archive Research Centre, (UAL/PARC) and Robin Christian, formerly PARC Project Manager, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, to create this new exhibition for the Moose on the Loose Research Biennale 2017. This exhibition, which combines original archive material with Sara’s new work, is co-curated by Val Williams and Robin Christian.

The exhibition is accompanied by the Ken. To be destroyed book, edited by Val Williams, published by Schilt.

This exhibition is supported by the Leverhulme Trust, University of the Arts London, London College of Communicationaf Public Programmes and the Photography and the Archive Research Centre at University of the Arts London.