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 1990, was titled Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them. 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 1978…
“When by fluke, I stayed at the same hotel as a group of crossdressers, one of whom became a friend.
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.”
Mariette Pathy Allen’s second book, The Gender Frontier, 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 and Transcendents: Spirit Mediums in Burma and Thailand.
Allen produced a portfolio of 11 dye transfer prints to coincide with the release of the book, Transformations. The exhibition at ClampArt in NYC includes the complete portfolio of color vintage prints, which consists of portraits of crossdressers shot in the late 1970s and 1980s. The exhibit also includes a selection of black-and-white prints by Allen shot in the same era.