This free photographic exhibition by Sara Davidmann 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 in an envelope she had marked ‘Ken. To be destroyed’. 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 1960s, 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 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 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.
Ken. To be destroyed is part of Moose on the Loose 2017 and is curated by University of the Arts London (UAL) Professor Val Williams.