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Radical Tenderness: Trans for Trans Portraiture

Radical Tenderness: Trans for Trans Portraiture

Timed to coincide with the International Day of Transgender Visibility on March 31, Radical Tenderness: Trans for Trans Portraiture highlights photographic work from four trans and non-binary artists whose portrait photography exudes tender intimacy and calls for a radical shift in visibility politics.

The presented images turn away from thinking of visibility in terms of commercial representation made for others. The photographs portray muses, friends, icons, and self on aesthetic terms that say this one is “for us.” Consider the different resonances of the portrayed having their eyes closed or averted. Feel the atmosphere of a bedroom, a dressing room, a private moment in a park. This group show is in honor of the Alice Austen legacy of creating meaningful photographs with friends that both create opportunities to bond and leave a trace of one’s love for each other behind.

Showing work from Johanna Jackie Baier (Germany), Zackary Drucker (US), Texas Isaiah (US), and Del LaGrace Volcano (US/Sweden), Radical Tenderness aims to inspire visitors to consider the role of the photographic camera in practices of survival and care.

This exhibition is curated in partnership with Dr. Eliza Steinbock of Leiden University, the Netherlands. Dr. Steinbock’s work in cultural analysis investigates visual culture mediums like film, digital media, and photography, with a special focus on dimensions of race, gender and sexuality.


Alice Austen (1866 – 1952) captured a changing New York City in more than 7000 photographs taken mostly around the turn of the twentieth century. Austen documented her life on Staten Island and boldly ventured onto the streets of Manhattan to photograph the activities of immigrants and the working class. She was versatile and forged her own path beyond the restrictive Victorian expectations for women. Austen was a master tennis player, an early advocate for women riding bicycles, founder of the Staten Island Garden Club, and is said to be the first woman on Staten Island to own a car.

A vibrant cultural center, the Alice Austen House keeps the bold spirit of the early American photographer alive by presenting changing exhibitions of Austen’s pioneering historic photographs and of contemporary photography, providing education programs for students, offering a range of cultural programs for the public. A Victorian Gothic Cottage that was Austen’s home serves as the museum and is located in a nationally landmarked park on the shore of Staten Island near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge with sweeping views of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. The Alice Austen House and grounds are owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, operated by the Friends of Alice Austen House Inc 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and a member of Historic House Trust. The Alice Austen House is a New York City and National Landmark, on the Register of Historic Places and a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s distinctive group of Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios. In 2017 we updated our designation to become a National site of LGBTQ History.

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