Following the culmination of a five-year collaboration between social artists Anthony Luvera and Sarah Wilson, the exhibition She / Her / Hers / Herself opened on February 2 Opening, 2023 Exposure in Belfast. The work charts the wide-ranging changes in Sarah’s life and her transition into a transgender identity while she builds a career as a beautician and learns to express her authentic self.
This series was produced from the visual exchange that took place between Sarah and Anthony following the usual practice of the artist, who is familiar with participatory projects aimed at giving voice to underserved or misrepresented communities .
Vernacular images created by Sarah and shared weekly with Anthony, displayed alongside portraits taken by the artist himself that document Sarah’s discovery of femininity. Together, these materials facilitate powerful storytelling, describing the evolution of the way she sees herself and wants to be seen by others. In addition to photographs, the exhibition also includes audiovisual elements, sculptural installations (designed to engage viewers interactively) and public programs.
The partnership between Anthony and Sarah portrays the process of gender transition as something extremely fundamental made up of multiple perspectives. This allows those who have been through similar experiences to reflect themselves in it and perhaps find some answers. For those who only know this reality as a bystander, they can grasp the difficulties encountered and see the hope that transformation brings to people’s lives. More importantly, the collaboration gave Sarah the opportunity to reflect on her own identity through photography, a true tool of inquiry that sits on the thin line between public and private life.
We caught up with Anthony and Sarah to learn more about the project.