This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people.
Many documentary photographic projects that deal with trans issues exploit the genders of their subjects, pointing to an "otherness" or inappropriately exoticizing their bodies. A Series of Questions seeks instead to make visible the transphobia and gender-baiting that can become part of everyday interactions and lives, forming a fuller picture of the various lived experiences. In so doing, this work contrasts with the dehumanizing approaches that predominate the images made of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people, which often focus solely on their gender or trans status, or use them to further a specific point about social construction and gender.
The subjects hold signs depicting questions that each has had posed to them personally— some by strangers, others by loved ones, friends, or colleagues. Presented on white wooden boards, the questions are turned on the viewer, shifting the dynamics under which they were originally asked, and prompting the viewer to cast a reflective, self-critical eye upon themself, revealing how invasive this frame of reference can be.
As a greater number of subjects and questions are accumulated, a relentless conversation of questioning emerges. Attention is directed not on the backgrounds of the transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or gender-variant subjects, but on the dynamics at work in these conversations. I am interested in uncovering the typology of these questions, discovering what categories of questions emerge as the script of power dynamics and interrogation is flipped.
L. Weingarten began photographing when he received an old Minolta camera from his father. He has been shooting and developing black and white film for 10 years, and is attracted to the democratic nature of the square format. LW's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at the Red Gallery in Melbourne. He is a graduate of the Digital Imaging & Photography BFA Program at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.