Relationship, an extensive photographic project created by Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst that documents their life together from 2008 through 2013, debuted at the 2014 Whitney Biennial, New York, and comes to Los Angeles via the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, where it is currently being presented as part of Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography through September 7th. The artists will also present a new video created specifically for this LA exhibition. (Relationship will be presented concurrently at The Flaten Art Museum, St. Olaf College, Minnesota, September 12 – November 2, and at the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands, November 6, 2014 – March 2015.)
Relationship chronicles Drucker and Ernst's private moments as an opposite-oriented transgender couple, during which time Ernst transitioned from female to male and Drucker transitioned from male to female. Described by Drucker as "pure diary", Relationship positions the document as a malleable tool for producing narrative and counternarrative form, through snapshots that depict the artists in various states of attachment and moments of solitude. "My life with Rhys was perplexing and captivating, and I wanted to remember it," she says.
This exhibition includes images presented at the Whitney and the AGO along with many others that are part of the original series but have not yet been shown. Perhaps the complexity of this iteration lies in how stages of detachment and intimacy are signified through differences of mood and tone as opposed to chronology; whereas Relationship's previous presentations cultivated a more celebratory and sentimental portal into the artists' life together, this broader range of material speaks to Drucker and Ernst's more recent stage of individuation as they initiate a separation of their romantic partnership while continuing their creative collaboration.
Included in this exhibition will be Drucker and Ernst's newest video collaboration, titled X, a montage of footage taken from the same time period as Relationship that references the intersection of their creative and romantic collaboration as they move in mirror-opposite directions. Overlaid with a voiceover track developed from the artists' personal writings, X functions as a parallel to the images' content and mode of accumulation—a compendium of fragmentation that dips in and out of abstraction and adds a textured, layered dimension to the stills.