Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMA PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated Producer for the docu-series This Is Me, as well as a Producer on Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Transparent.
Drucker earned an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2007 and a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2005. Her recent videos and films include Mother Comes To Venus (2018), created in collaboration with Emmy and Golden Globe-winning director Jill Soloway (Transparent), and featuring queer rapper Mykki Blanco and trans actress Alexandra Grey; SHE GONE ROGUE (created in collaboration with transgender film director Rhys Ernst), presented in the 2014 Whitney Biennial; Fan the Flames, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Flaten Art Museum, St. Olaf College, Minneapolis; Made in L.A. 2012 (Los Angeles Biennial), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and At least you know you exist, presented at MoMA PS1 and the 3rdMoscow Biennial for Young Art, among many other notable venues. Other videos include One Fist, The Inability to Be Looked At, and The Horror of Nothing to See, Lost Lake, FISH: A Matrilineage of Cunty White-Woman Realness, and You will never be a woman. You must live the rest of your days entirely as a man and will only grow more masculine with every passing year. There is no way out.
Drucker has also performed and exhibited her work internationally in numerous museums, galleries, and film festivals including the 54th Venice Biennale (Swiss Off-Site Pavilion); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; ICA London; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Curtat Tunnel, Lausanne, Switzerland; L.U.C.C.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, Lucca, IT; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tromso Kunstaforening, Tromso, Norway; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Hammer Museum, REDCAT and LACE, all in Los Angeles, among others. She is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
The gallery is pleased to announce that the Baltimore Museum of Art has acquired five photographs by Zackary Drucker for it's permanet collection. The acquistion includeds three self-portraits from the "Relationship" series (produced in collaboration with Rhys Ernst from 2008- 2014 and debuted at the 2014 Whitney Biennial) and two photographs from the "Before and After" series (produced in collaboration with A. L. Steiner in 2010- 2011). The acquision is an outcome of BMA's "2020 Vision," a year of exhibitions and programs dedicated to the presentation of the achievements of female-identifying artists. 2020 Vision builds on the BMA's efforts over the last several years to expand its presentations of women artists and artists of color, and to more accurately reflect the community in which it lives.
"Nosotras te vemos means 'we see you' in the feminine version of the phrase, a subtle way of recognizing one femme to another. I want to convey a message of unity to the transgender women and to all the people living in forced detention at South Texas ICE Processing Center.
During the Obama administration, while addressing the proposed legislation of North Carolina to bar trans students from restrooms that correlated with their gender presentation, then attorney general Loretta Lynch said to transgender Americans, 'We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.' It was an incredible moment historically because trans people had never been spoken to so publicly. To have a person from the president’s cabinet speak directly to a community that had been ignored and silenced was such a powerful paradigm shift and validation. "
In Plain Sight is a coalition of 80 artists united to create an artwork dedicated to the abolition of immigrant detention and the United States culture of incarceration. A highly orchestrated mediagenic spectacle and poetic action, this project is conceived in five parts -- a poetic elegy enacted on a national scale, an interactive website, an anthology docuseries, accessible actions for the public to take to join the movement against immigrant detention, and cultural partnerships producing arts-related education and engagement.
The gallery is pleased to announce that the Baltimore Museum of Art will present Zackary Drucker in conversation with her personal muse and mentor Rosalyne Blumenstein, LCSW, a legendary trans rights activist whose portraits and archival photographs comprise an important part of the BMA’s exhibition Zackary Drucker: Icons. They discuss their approach to concepts of photographic beauty and their personal involvement in trans activism. Renowned photographer, curator, and educator Allen Frame moderates the conversation and BMA Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Leslie Cozzi hosts a live Q&A following the discussion.
The gallery is pleased to announce that the McEvoy Art Foundation has published an interview with interdisciplinary artist Zackary Drucker through their ongoing conversation series titled McEvoy Arts at Home. Interviewed by Steve Polta, director of the San Francisco Cinematheque, Drucker reflects on witnessing her lineage and shifting consciousness through lyrical film-making.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is pleased to announce that the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA has acquired seven photographs from Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst's Relationship (2008-2014), a series of intimate snapshots taken by the artists that depicts the arc of their real-life love story. Named for its founder, William Rutherford Mead (an 1867 graduate of Amherst College and a partner in the storied architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White), the Mead holds the art collection of Amherst College, celebrated for its American and European paintings, Mexican ceramics, Tibetan scroll paintings, English paneled room, ancient Assyrian carvings, Russian avant-garde art, West African sculpture, and Japanese prints.
Zackary Drucker: Icons weaves together two semi-intertwined personal narratives, juxtaposing newly created self-portrait photographs of artist, producer, and activist Zackary Drucker with pictures the artist has taken of mentor and friend Rosalyne Blumenstein, LCSW, who directed the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center’s pioneering Gender Identity Project in the 1990s. Depicting two women of different ages and experiences and the scars that they bear, Drucker’s work interrogates assumptions about transformation, beauty, aging, and mortality. Her searching, meticulous self-portraits expand on the groundbreaking Relationship series Drucker co-created a decade ago. Forming part of Drucker’s ongoing project to record and chronicle the trans community, her images of muse and mentor Blumenstein capture the cinematic flavor of the artist’s timely revision of art historical precedent.
Curated by Alejandro Perdomo Daniels and hosted by Syker Vorwerk, Fluidity creates a framework for positions in contemporary art that articulate the spectrum of gender difference, the overriding certainties regarding gender, sexuality, and desire, making it clear that the traditional identity categories of men and women, heterosexual and homosexual represent incomplete approaches to real life experiences. Instead of reproducing normative narratives through affirmation or negation, the exhibition shows perspectives that destabilize systems of normality and power. Based on the work of nine selected contemporary artists, Fluidity addresses a field of tension of unlimited scope and reflects the plurality and performance of contemporary art production in an international context.
Orlando presents recent and newly commissioned photographs inspired by the themes of Virginia Woolf’s prescient 1928 novel, which tells the story of a young nobleman during the era of Queen Elizabeth I who lives for three centuries without aging and mysteriously shifts gender along the way. Orlando is guest curated by Tilda Swinton and organized by Aperture, New York.
An essay by curator Pavel S. Pyś on the exhibition The Body Electric, which originated at the Walker Art Center and will travel to the Yeba Buena Center for the Arts and the Miami Dade College Museum of Art and Design. The exhibition includes works from Relationship (2008-2014) by Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents the West Coast debut of The Body Electric, an expansive array of more than 70 works revealing the ways that technology changes our collective understanding of the body, everyday life, and sense of self.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is pleased to announce that six photographs from Zackary Drucker's Relationship (2008-2014) were acquired by the Museum of Comtemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago, IL. Relationship (2008-2014) is a series of intimate snapshots taken by Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst that depicts the arc of their real-life five-and-a-half year relationship, during which one transitioned from female to male, and the other from male to female. Founded in 1976 by Columbia College Chicago as the successor to the Chicago Center for Contemporary Photography, the Museum of Contemporary Photography began collecting in the early 1980s and is the world’s premier college art museum dedicated to photography with more than 15,000 objects by over 1,500 artists in its collection.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles has revealed works by its artists that have recently added to museum collections. The Nasher Museum in Durham, North Carolina, acquired Peter Williams‘s 2020 painting Birdland; the Baltimore Museum of Art acquired photos from two series, “Relationship” and “Before and After,” by Zackary Drucker; Federico Solmi‘s video installation The Great Farce Portable Theater was acquired by the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; Edra Soto’s installation Open 24 Hours is now held in the collection of the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago; and five works by Erik Olson have been acquired by the Art Gallery of Alberta in Calgary, Canada. Additionally, the gallery announced that Lia Halloran has been named a 2020–21 City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellow. As such, Halloran will be awarded a $10,000 grant to produce a new body of work.
"I think you know a lot about how visibility is, you know, begins with representation, begins with images and how the kind of dearth of images of people with disabilities and trans people and people of color existing in public life have kind of invisibilized to us and made our need sort of…underground, concealed, the physical needs for us to exist. Invisibilized representation in the trans community I think has really been front and center and the conversation over the past several years because of the emergence of gender diversity on screen and the counter."
- Zachary Drucker
During the Obama administration, while addressing the proposed legislation of North Carolina to bar trans students from restrooms that correlated with their gender presentation, then attorney general Loretta Lynch said to transgender Americans, “We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.” It was an incredible moment historically because trans people had never been spoken to so publicly. To have a person from the president’s cabinet speak directly to a community that had been ignored and silenced was such a powerful paradigm shift and validation. —Zackary Drucker
The purpose of the temporary works was to raise awareness about social injustice rampant in the US’s immigration system and where these injustices are carried out. Over the weekend, XMAP: In Plain Sight uplifted the children and adults who have suffered from inhuman living conditions, the separation of detained families, violence, and, in some cases, death at the hands of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.
Two fleets of five skytyping planes each are set for takeoff across the country this Independence Day weekend armed with calls for the abolition of the immigrant detention in the United States as part of the project “In Plain Sight.” (Developed from older skywriting technology, skytyping planes inject oil into their exhaust systems to produce a white smoke that is released into the sky by a computer-controlled system to produce precise letter-writing.) Phrases like “Care Not Cages,” “Unseen Mothers” and “Nosotras Te Vemos (We See You)” will momentarily hover above 80 locations — including detention facilities, immigration courts, prisons, borders and historic sites like Ellis Island — before dissipating into the atmosphere.
Drucker of Los Angeles explores the novel’s themes of gender and time as part of her photo series “Rosalyne,” which show trans elder and activist Rosalyne Blumenstein in a variety of poses that evoke some of the classical imagery of the novel as well as the blending of time periods. A photo of a nude Blumenstein mimicking the pose of a nearby Venus de Milo also manages to recall the aesthetic of Potter’s film.“Rosalyne is a legend in the trans community,” says Drucker, who lives in Los Angeles. “The photos came about because I felt she was the perfect living Orlando, she was traveling through time and crossing genders.”
ZACKARY DRUCKER: I think all of us in the community have had those moments of being like, “Is this going to somehow alienate people who aren’t ready yet?”
SUSAN STRYKER: Why is it that trans issues have become like a front-and-center issue in the culture wars?
ZACKARY DRUCKER: I think capitalizing on people’s fear is what has landed us in this moment right now, and you have hope on one side and fear on the other.
The Baltimore Museum of Art has announced that it will dedicate the next year to women artists, most notably by spending its entire acquisitions budget for the year on works of art by women, as part of its 2020 Vision campaign. The museum’s permanent collection contains over 95,000 pieces of art, but only about 4% of those pieces were created by women. Next year’s initiative is meant to help rectify that imbalance. “You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko...To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical.”
The Baltimore Museum of Art will celebrate 2020 by adopting a daring new policy designed to reverse the art world’s historic marginalization of female artists. Museum director Christopher Bedford said Thursday that every artwork the BMA purchases for its permanent collection next year — every painting, every sculpture, every ceramic figurine — will have been created by a woman. In addition, each of the 22 exhibits on view will have a female-centric focus. Nineteen will showcase artworks exclusively by women and will include works by at least one transgender woman, Zackary Drucker...
Throughout The Body Electric,groupings of artists demonstrate shared engagements with themes of transgender identity (Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker, Juliana Huxtable), visualizing queerness (Paul Mpagi Sepuya), and race (Howardena Pindell, Lyle Ashton Harris), speaking to how we negotiate our sense of self in relation to media-driven systems of representation.
Drucker, the 36-year-old transgender artist, activist, actress and producer of the television series Transparent, who The New York Times described as “tall and blonde with eyes as blue as swimming pools”, momentarily loses her train of thought.I had asked her what she sees when she sits in front of a mirror. “That's such a revealing question, it's wonderful,” she says, smiling.
Now, it seems the Shed, a new arts complex in the heart of Hudson Yards, may be going through its own, lower-key crisis. Earlier this month, a boycott of fitness properties such as Equinox, Soulcycle and Blink over owner Stephen Ross’ decision to host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump bled into other investments. The artistic duo who style themselves Zackary Drucker + A.L. Steiner have removed their work from the Shed’s “Open Call, Group 2” exhibition, in protest of Ross’ fundraiser.
Zackary Drucker says she’s used “code-switching” as a trans woman navigating the complex contexts of social and cultural structures. Add to that, she appreciates the nuances of moving between and among the interconnected yet oppositional worlds of fine art and entertainment production in Los Angeles.
Best known as a co-producer of the TV series Transparent, Zackary Drucker is an artist-activist who has devoted her career to making the world less grey and lonely for people who, like her, define themselves as transgender or non-binary. Her photographic and video artwork has been shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York, the Venice Biennale, and nominated for an Emmy. But in one of her most recent projects, she has resorted to direct action, creating an open-access database of pictures available to any media outlet, anywhere in the world, wishing to represent people who don’t fit into traditional gender moulds.
“My transition from young white boy with a false sense of privilege in the 1970s to young tranny-girl with little or no privilege was a real smack in the face,” Rosalyne Blumenstein wrote in her 2003 autobiography, Branded T. “My spirit and soul seemed to be uplifted and smashed on a daily basis.”Blumenstein is an icon. I met her, in 1993, when I came to New York as a newbie trans activist from San Francisco and visited the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, where Blumenstein, a self-described “woman of transexual experience,” lent street cred as director of the center’s pioneering Gender Identity Project, which included an HIV-prevention program for trans people.
“Guest-edited by Tilda Swinton. Inspired by Virginia Woolf,” so reads the cover of this year’s summer edition of Aperture. The issue and the accompanying exhibition are centered around Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando, a piece of writing Swinton knows intimately, as she embodied the character Orlando in Sally Potter’s 1992 film adaptation of the novel.
Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today celebrates the authentic, beautiful, and vulnerable voices of contemporary, North American artists who express their true selves through a broad gender spectrum. Some of the artists identify as LGBTQ+, and some do not. The art in Transamerica/n speaks to family, community, self-discovery, and ultimately identity. Artists’ experiences are highlighted as part of the McNay’s dual commitment to artistic excellence and community impact.
For Aperture’s Summer 2019 edition, guest editor Tilda Swinton turned to Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando for its uncannily prescient explorations of gendered identity.Set in the 16th century, the titular protagonist lives for 300 years, sliding back and forth between the genders on the way. Swinton’s fascination with the novel began when she starred as the titular character in the 1992 film adaptation directed by Sally Potter.
The actress makes her first foray into art curation in a photography show that revolves around the gender-defying themes of Woolf’s novel Orlando.Tilda Swinton can boast of many achievements, having performed in more than 70 films, including Michael Clayton, for which she won an Oscar in 2008. In a way hers is the broadest of careers, stretching from her salad days of the 1980s working with the acclaimed independent director Derek Jarman to her appearance in this year’s Avengers: Endgame, which is already one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
Long relegated to the margins of the art world, LGBTQ artists have always tested the borders of expression. Now they’re claiming their place at center stage.Zackary Drucker’s videos delight in deconstructing gender binaries (she’s also a producer on Transparent).
TRhe Festival of Jewish Arts and Music (FOJAM), formerly Shir Madness Melbourne, takes over the Melbourne Recital Centre in a day-long immersion of contemporary Jewish culture with 30 performances across music, theatre, dance and conversation on Sunday 8 September, 2019.
Stock photos don't have a great reputation when it comes to gender-inclusivity. Options are limited at best or non-existent at worst.
That's why Vice Media's feminist channel Broadly decided to launch their own stock photo library of gender-inclusive images. The Gender Spectrum Collection includes over 180 images featuring 15 trans and non-binary models
On Tuesday, Broadly, Vice’s vertical covering women, gender non-conforming folks, and the LGBTQ+ community, published a stock photo library featuring more than 180 images of trans and non-binary models that, according to the site’s announcement, “go beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags.” It is the first database of its kind, and, while stock photos might seem like the stuff of goofy memes, it actually represents a historic step forward for queer representation in media.
The first thing one notices upon entering Caitlin Cherry‘s show at Luis De Jesus is her sensational palette so improbable that it seems to have dropped from outer space. Clashing vibrant colors contrast, oscillate and dazzle as though her paintings were a laser light show. As the shock of hue subsides, you find yourself drawn into a bizarre alternate world ruled by curvaceous mystic black women who exude eccentric glamour while confronting discriminatory stereotypes.
Hollywood loves selling binaries — comedy or drama, period or futuristic, action or romance, which means it should come as no surprise that this same philosophy typically applies to gender. So when Zackary Drucker, a transgender woman who had a background in experimental art, entered the industry in the early 2000s, she (predictably) had a hard time with the adjustment: “We all exist in so many worlds, but trans folks, especially, have a different way of compartmentalizing,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard to integrate.”
With this initial installment of Broadly’s Trans Legends oral history project, which I’ve led as a contributing editor to the site, we are shining a light on trans resilience by gathering stories and wisdom from 13 trans women who have been witness to—and key characters in—decades of LGBTQ history.
Transgender representation in media is shamefully scarce, offering few avenues for trans people to see their stories represented accurately in the world of entertainment. What’s even rarer is for trans women, especially trans women of color, to call the shots in the industry. But in the film Mother Comes to Venus by trans director Zackary Drucker, that reality is flipped on its head.
Condé Nast’s LGBTQ+ platform dubbed "them" has revealed its first major project, Queeroes, a short film series developed in partnership with 5050by2020. The initiative includes a mentorship program designed to elevate storytelling from queer, trans and POC points of view. Mentors include Soloway, Emmy winner Lena Waithe (The Chi, Master of None) and writer-creator-showrunner Tanya Saracho (Vida). Featured voices in the program are Zackary Drucker, Chelsea Woods and Natalia Leite.
The bicoastal art-film nonprofit Dirty Looks today detailed the upcoming edition of its “On Location” festival in Los Angeles, naming the four programs that will form the core of its month-long screening series of queer cinema in queer-oriented spaces...Also on deck for the L.A. edition of “On Location” is a survey of short films and documentation of the life of Zackary Drucker, an influential trans performance artist and filmmaker who has been a producer of the Amazon series Transparent since it premiered in 2014.
Last Saturday, March 18, a memorial service was held for Jack Doroshow, better known as Mother Flawless Sabrina, who passed away on November 18, 2017. A prolific drag queen and activist, Flawless Sabrina was a queer icon without parallel, whose work and mentorship has profoundly influenced (and continues to influence) generations of LGBTQ+ people. Among Flawless Sabrina’s closest confidantes was Zackary Drucker, an artist and cultural producer who is working to preserve Sabrina’s legacy through the Flawless Sabrina Archive.
Some years ago, a student of mine made what might be construed as a Freudian slip in a written exam, when she bemoaned the pernicious effects of a “dominant white male vulture.” That vulture is certainly still picking the flesh off the bones of mainstream cinema (should that read “manstream”?), and AIFF is doing its best to redress the gender balance, not only by screening work by women (in 2017, 53% of directors who had films at AIFF were women), but also through its Pride Award which is presented this year to transgender media artist Zackary Drucker, a co-producer of Transparent, the Amazon TV series.
“As an adolescent, I discovered that by taking a Polaroid picture of myself dressed as a girl, I could escape the confines of boyhood.” Zackary Drucker, artist, trans activist, and producer of the series Transparent, shares how photography saved her life in the opening letter of Aperture magazine’s latest issue. Themed ‘Future Gender’, the issue is an expansive celebration of trans pioneers and today’s trans icons, guest edited by Drucker herself.
This year’s Round Hole Square Peg is dedicated to the question “What is queer photography?” and Tarely will join jurors Laura Aguilar, Paul Bridgewater, Zackary Drucker, Bert Green, and Robert Summers in selecting Best in Show.
Zackary Drucker: I wanted to start by telling the story of how I found my way to you and your writing as a fourteen-year-old queer youth. It was the mid-’90s and I’d recently discovered the word queer. There I was, in the LGBT and women’s studies section at the bookstore. I don’t know what possessed me, but I shoplifted a copy of Gender Outlaw, and discovered the word transgender, and found myself in your words and in your experience in a way that I had never felt reflected before.
"When I was four years old, maybe even younger, I would dive into this chest of dress-up clothes that my mother had in the basement and my parents would take Polaroids of me. This is something trans folks have done since the inception of photography. Imagining themselves outside the constraints of their everyday reality."
Featuring work by Cindy Sherman and Juliana Huxtable, and guest edited by artist, activist, and producer, Zackary Drucker, Aperture’s new issue celebrates the infinite possibilities of our identities. Newton’s third law, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” goes far beyond the scope of physics. We can see it in all areas of life, perhaps most clearly where oppression exists and takes root.
A new tradition may be starting between the transgender film festival TransNation and the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles. For the second year in a row the two groups are collaborating to bring relevant trans stories to a collective stage. Stepping into a similar role as last year, filmmaker and producer Zackary Drucker (Transparent) has been given the official title of creative director this year.
"I'm a trans woman myself, and I think that the lived experience that I bring to my job in 'Transparent,' and all of the entertainment projects that I work on, is crucial. You can't just make it up and have this kind of created notion of what a trans experience is like. I think that the only way that our stories can be told accurately is by us."
“We the people” is a slogan for the United States and a rallying cry. But the exhibit asks: Who is the “we”? In response, Christopher Harrison (independent curator and artist), Johnnay Leenay (Minnesota Museum of American Art), Mary Anne Quiroz (Indigenous Roots Cultural Center) and Maggie Thompson (Two Rivers Art Gallery) present artwork with disparate cultural points of view. Artists include Star Wallowing Bull, Zackary Drucker, Rico Gatson, Susan Hauptman, Nooshin Hakim Javadi, Steve Ozone and others.
Laverne Cox narrates the history of the transgender civil rights movement in an illustrated video in collaboration with Time and the ACLU. The video is a collaborative effort from “Transparent” producer Zackary Drucker, artists Molly Crabapple and Kim Boekbinder and Cox.
I met my grandmother, Flawless Sabrina, when I was 18. It was 2001, and I had just moved to New York City from Syracuse. I went to the West Side Piers for Wigstock, a drag festival they had back then. I couldn't afford the $20 to get in and see the performance, so I hung out near the entrance and took pictures of some of the queens who were coming in and out. As Flawless Sabrina left, I took a picture of her, and she said to me, "You're on the wrong side of the camera, kid."
Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD’s) The Fed Galleries @ KCAD present Cultural Landscapes, an exhibition uniting eight of the contemporary art world’s most dynamic voices in a conversation about how artists affirm cultural values and shape our larger collective identity.
“Representation is where acceptance and understanding begin,” transgender performance artist Zackary Drucker explained in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Film is such an integral component in creating empathy. It shapes how so many people perceive the trans experience.”
It’s an honor to write to you as the guest editors of Out’s October issue. For those of you who don’t know us, we are artists and filmmakers. We are both trans, but in opposite directions — Zackary is a trans woman, and Rhys is a trans man. We both moved from New York City to Los Angeles to attend CalArts, and we both transitioned at age 25. We have many things in common, but we are also very different. We both identify as queer but have been L, G and/or B at different points in our lives. We are collaborators and colleagues, and were formerly romantic partners.
On a hot night in July at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst perched on stools to discuss their new book of photographs, “Relationship.” It is by far the most personal of the many projects they have worked on together. The photographs chronicle their six-year romance, which ended soon after many of these images were shown at the Whitney Biennial in 2014.
Dubbed the TransNation Festival, the October event’s proceeds will benefit Los Angeles-based organizations that provide services to transgender people, including the festival’s creator, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, who have one of the largest transgender health programs in the country. Celebrity Kelly Osbourne is lending her voice to the cause, along with award-winning transgender creative Zackary Drucker.
Built by the US army in 1907, the remote and beautiful Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California, went from a soldiers’ barracks that was active until the 1970s to an artists’ residence in 1987. In this lovely, quiet environment, I feel deeply conscious of my inner world. In my weeks here, I’ve come to recognize how the noises and distractions of modern life affect me and how all the micro interactions that I have with nature, other people, and technology influence my life. This residency feels like a spiritual gift.
In Relationship, their new book of photographs, artists Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker document the six-year span of their romantic union—a time period when their careers and lives were undergoing incredible (and parallel) shifts. By 2014, when the book concludes, they’d gone from grad students in the arts to artists featured in the Whitney Biennial (where these photos debuted publicly), and from making films at home on severely limited budgets to working on the blockbuster Amazon show Transparent.
When she was younger, filmmaker, photographer, and performance artist Zackary Drucker promised herself that she “would never be bored as an adult.” As a result, neither are her audiences. Through her work, Drucker confronts gender norms, sexuality, the body, and her own experience as a trans woman, challenging viewers to reconsider their attitudes about each. Her work ranges from highly personal photographs of moments with her partner, to chilling incantations of LGBT slurs juxtaposed against the tranquility of an autumn landscape.
Between 2008 and 2014, Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker were both transitioning genders — Ernst from female to male, and Drucker from male to female. They were also a couple. For six years, the two photographed themselves and each other, documenting both the course of their relationship and the joys and trials of the transitioning process. The 2014 Whitney Biennial featured 46 of their photographs, in addition to a collaborative film called She Gone Rogue and a performance piece by Flawless Sabrina, an iconic drag performer.
"Dude, don't be weird," Zackary Drucker told her former romantic partner Rhys Ernst during a photoshoot at BuzzFeed’s studios in New York last June. As they stood beside one another, Ernst had turned his face away from Drucker, as if attempting to distance himself from her. He finally settled into a pose.
For his bookshop and website One Grand Books, the editor Aaron Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. The next in the series is Zackary Drucker, the transgender performance artist and associate producer of “Transparent,” who shares her list exclusively with T. (Read more about her most prized possession, a ceramic cat, here.)
Zackary Drucker is a Los Angeles-based artist and co-producer for the Amazon original series “Transparent,” nominated for three Golden Globe awards, including Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy. Here, she recounts the significance behind a ceramic cat from her childhood in Syracuse, N.Y., that temporarily takes the place of an actual, living pet.
30. Zackary Drucker: Drucker, a multimedia artist who was featured on our list of 15 revolutionary transgender artists, participated in Cooper Union’s acclaimed “Bring Your Own Body: Transgender Between Archives and Aesthetics” alongside Chris Vargas, Vaginal Davis, Justin Vivian Bond, and others. Drucker is also a co-producer on the acclaimed Amazon series “Transparent,” which will return for a second season in 2016. She will also be featured alongside longtime collaborator and partner Rhys Ernst in a photography show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in spring 2016, which will explore the pair’s journey a transgender couple.
In this 4-minute, short-form pilot, Southern for Pussy, real life mother and daughter and longtime collaborators — Zackary Drucker and Penny Sori — traverse a wide swathe of political and intrapersonal subjects, toggling between the conventional (online dating, aging, and relationships) to the unorthodox (vaginal atrophy, smoking dope, and cruising for sex). These mother-daughter vignettes deftly straddle hilarity and honesty; the short was recently in the exhibition, Bring Your Own Body: Transgender Between Archives and Aesthetics, in the New York gallery 41 Cooper Union, and premiered on the Chicago web series platform, Open TV.
“I started working on Transparent two and a half years ago when Jill was developing the pilot, and the cultural landscape was so different back then. It was before the quote-unquote ‘trans tipping point,’” the show's co-producer and trans consultant Zackary Drucker told us. “We’ve made these enormous strides, I think, over the past two years, and I think it absolutely informs our flexibility on Transparent with the trans characters, because we are all kind of moving forward more rapidly..."
In this conversation, Flawless Sabrina, Zackary Drucker, and Elisabeth Sherman, Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney, discuss the tarot card readings; the first drag contest Flawless Sabrina initiated in 1959; and the ever-changing landscape of New York City. The interview is illustrated by snapshots taken by Drucker inside the apartment.
Zackary Drucker (trans consultant on Transparent): I have concerns about trans actors being cast in roles that are being written by cis people entirely. I read a lot of pilots last season and they had trans characters just popping up and saying, "I'm trans. I'm trans. I'm trans. Genitals!" and then disappearing. Writers that are trans, consultants who are informing cis writers to help create more complex renderings of our lives, it all has to happen.
The "Bring Your Own Body" exhibit at the Cooper Union in New York City features works of transgender artists and archives from the renowned Kinsey Institute illustrating the experience of the transgender community in America through official history as well as modern-day artistic expression.
As a society, we’re waking up to the idea that gender identity doesn’t fit into two neat, blue and pink boxes, but rather exists on a spectrum that might not always mirror the biological body. Perhaps nowhere is the notion of gender fluidity being more tangibly explored than in the fashion industry, where designers are increasingly creating collections that blur the boundaries between boys and girls.
In the collaborative project, Relationship (2008-2013), Drucker and Ernst document their romantic partnership as a transitioning transgender couple—Drucker from male to female, Ernst from female to male. “We are all collectively morphing and transforming together, and this is just one story of an opposite-oriented transgender couple living in Los Angeles,” Drucker has said. The artists fairly represent and qualify their own experiences in terms of the gender discourse they provide, and thus the work can produce relatable, understandable narratives in terms of content.
From night at the Palace to afternoon in a mysterious Venice alley, the gritty glamour of L.A. serves as a backdrop to this enigmatic game of hide-and-seek. At the story's end, model Daisy and transgender performance artist Zackary reunite in a single morphed portrait.
Performance artist/filmmaker/occasional actress Zackary Drucker has evolved from a superstar of the Los Angeles queer scene to a prominent figure in the American art world. Onscreen, the CalArts graduate is best known for her performance as "Darling" in the short experimental film She Gone Rogue, a dream-like exploration of gender and identity with cameos from Holly Woodlawn, Flawless Sabrina, and Vaginal Davis.
Kate Bonner lives and works in Oakland, CA creating sculptural works through both digital and manual processes that combine photography with physical structures. Chopped up glimpses of photographs are mounted, layered, and reassembled on solid surfaces, variously bent and reaching away from the wall, or simply leaning up against it; their unexpected forms exceed the typical photographic frame, in turn making the entire wall or room the frame.
This year Tourjee, along with her friend Zackary Drucker, the artist and Transparent associate producer, has embarked on preserving Doroshow’s life’s work and activism. The Flawless Sabrina Archive — presently unfurling on the western wall in the form of boxes heaped with old gay magazines, photographs, notebooks, letters, and court documents — is a nonprofit, set up by Tourjee and Drucker, that aims to be a historical resource for the LGBT community with a focus on young artists, performers, and students.
For the 2014 Biennial, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst present three collaborative projects. Ernst is a director and filmmaker; Drucker’s work as an artist spans photography, film, and performance. The photographs on view on the Museum’s third floor, Relationship, are an intimate and diaristic record of their relationship as a transgender couple whose bodies are transitioning in opposite directions (for Drucker from male to female, and for Ernst from female to male).
This summer, artistic collaborators Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst hit a high point in their careers by being included in the Whitney Biennial. The diaristic photo portraits on display recorded their relationship and their bodies as they transitioned (for Drucker from male to female; for Ernst from female to male), even as their lives continued to evolve.
The idea to include The Queen in the Transparent opening titles came from associate producers Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst. Drucker and Ernst have steadily won acclaim for their art work over the last three years, with projects featured in the inaugural Made in L.A. 2012 biennial and the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
With sections previously shown in the Made in LA 2012 and the Whitney Biennial, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst’s current exhibition at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles captures in scattered pictures and videos the rise and fall of their years-long love affair, a relationship that ravels and unravels whilst both more fully transition into their true genders.
Transformation is never easy, but almost always necessary, and in the case of Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, a cause for undaunting exploration. Their most recent collaboration, aptly titled “Post/Relationship/X” explores the intimate moments within a relationship between an opposite-oriented transgender couple, during which time Ernst transitioned from female to male and Drucker transitioned from male to female.
America in general and Los Angeles in particular have a reputation as places for a second chance, places where anyone might reinvent a self. Photographers and filmmakers Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst are emblematic – and in mind-and- body-bending ways. Their work moves forward propositions perhaps first encountered 20 years ago in Cathy Opie’s widely acclaimed art. At Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Druckerand Ernst show two videos and a selection of 62 color photographs that were featured in the Whitney Museum’s Biennial this year.
Two rows of color photographs make up Drucker and Ernst’s glamorous Relationship, 2008-13. In the top row, a figure with long bleached-blond hair poses in heels or in a dark apartment; below, a person with short dark hair lounges in bed or wades in the ocean. The series documents the couple’s gender transitions, artist Drucker from male to female and filmmaker Ernst from female to male, in images that, like gender, walk the line between documentary and performance.
When I drove up to Zackary Drucker’s home off San Fernando Road, the front door was wide open—a startling sight since most of the surrounding houses have metal bars over the windows and doors. The Los Angeles video and performance artist lives in Glassell Park, an industrial strip in Northeast Los Angeles. Besides the open door, the house also stood apart with its manicured lawn and the polished wood floors I glimpsed through the doorway. It was as if Drucker’s house was in color, and the rest of the neighborhood in black and white.
Performance/video artist Zackary Drucker and London-based photographer Manuel Vason have teamed up to create a series of self-reflexive and sometimes enigmatic images shot in Milan in 2010 during one of Drucker’s seminal performances. Drucker’s imagery does more than explicate transgendered identities; each of these photographs in some way expands the transgender dialectic to include, and indeed embrace, the compulsion toward violence, voyeurism and the interior space of the body versus the exterior space of public display and performance.
Drucker kicked off the evening with “Bring Your Own Body,” a tribute/biographical monologue to the late transgender figure Lynn Elizabeth Harris. Harris, who was born a hermaphrodite in Orange County in 1950, was raised as a female through high school and beyond by parents who never reconsidered his gender identity...
Filmmaker Rhys Ernst and artist Zackary Drucker have a name for their situation. They sometimes refer to themselves as “reverse heterosexuals.” “It’s radical to most people that we’re such a normal couple,” says Ernst, who met Drucker three years ago in the backyard of a mansion in Los Angeles, the city where they now share an apartment. At the time, both were beginning a period of life-altering transition: Drucker from male to female, Ernst from female to male.
Zackary Drucker is a transgender performance artist who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality and seeing. The artist uses a female pronoun, and through her participatory pieces she complicates established binaries of viewer and subject, insider and outsider, and male and female in order to create a complex image of the self. “The Gold Standard” is a collection of Drucker’s projects, including performances and photography, documentation and exhibitionism, and combinations of the above.
With his latest effort, the burgeoning publishing mogul shifts a gear that looks to me like a focus from the people to the artist — the rich, mesmerizing and artistically elevated art publication, TRANSLADY FANZINE. As coffee-table as OP is pocket-sized, TRANSLADY FANZINE does not attempt to hand a microphone to the infinitely varied experience of transgender females, but rather is the product of an obsessively intimate collaboration between Amos Mac and a muse, the acclaimed performance and video artist Zackary Drucker.
Zackary Drucker Performance Artist, Filmmaker– The most memorable work to date by 27-year-old performance artist Zackary Drucker may well be a piece entitled The Inability To Be Looked At and the Horror of Nothing to See, staged four times in 2009, where Drucker lays on a table wearing only underwear and a blond wig with a steel ball in her mouth.
"I do consider myself a performance artist, though it’s only one of a few mediums I work with. My performance of gender and sexuality is the common denominator in all of my film, video, photographic, and performative works. My performance mode is continuous and fully-integrated into my everyday life; as a gender variant person my physicality in this world is always on the line, always under review and scrutiny to the audience of greater culture..."