Infusing elements of photography, film, video, text and performance, Zackary Drucker’s work is rooted in cultivating and investigating under-recognized aspects of transgender history, locating herself in that history, and communicating a contemporary experience of gender and sexuality. Drawing from feminist and queer theoretical discourse, she addresses sexual exploitation, transgender representation, and drag performance in order to explore relationships that facilitate queer/countercultural lineage. Selected photographs from “Distance is where the heart is, Home is where you hang your heart”, realized in collaboration with Amos Mac, were recently exhibited at the Luis De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles. She has been awarded the important 2009 California Community Foundation Fellowship and her works have been presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou, The New Museum, the UCLA Hammer Museum, among other venues, as well as the 2011 San Francisco International Film Festival, where her video “Lost Lake” won the Best New Visions Award.
Landscape Stories: Can you tell me more about Home?
Zackary Drucker: I created the series with Amos Mac who is a photographer and the publisher of Original Plumbing, a lifestyle quarterly for trans men. Amos initiated the dialogue as he developed the idea for a new project, a series of collaborations with trans women. The resulting publication is Translady Fanzine, Issue #1. Amos and I decided to create a performative photo-story using my childhood home in Syracuse, NY as a backdrop. Using the idea of home as a context to explore my history and evolution, the series at its core both exposes and destabilizes the fundamental truths of personal origin and authenticity.
Landscape Stories: Your work provides a place to construct yourself. Can you explain this?
Zackary Drucker: I was barely a person when I started living in this world, and subsequently, I have acquired 28 years of experience constantly changing. Everything we put on in life accumulates, warps, and reverberates before purging itself from us completely. I am always different. My work has documented my selves in flux.
Landscape Stories: What is your language? I think also about “You will never, ever be a woman. You must live the rest of your days entirely as a man, and you will only get more masculine with each passing year. There is no way out”. (2008).
Zackary Drucker: The language that I speak and perform is an American-English sub-cultural vernacular. In the case of You Will never be a woman… I was reading and receiving “shade” from my sister Van Barnes, so that was more reality than scripted dialogue. Some of the language I use is invented or improvised, stemming from an exploration of relationships, from my own writing, or from the language of queens past. One of the best resources for historical queer slang that I’ve found is a book from the early 1970’s by Bruce Rodgers called The Queens Vernacular, which I unearthed in my Grandma Flawless Sabrina’s apartment. I’ve culled quite a bit of inspiration from that book.
Landscape Stories: What is queer language?
Zackary Drucker: It is more colourful than the alternative.
Landscape Stories: You explore the power of relationships between spectacle and voyeur, using your body. What does that mean to you?
Zackary Drucker: I like to challenge my audience directly – spectators are far too safe in their bodies when looking at art, especially with the amount of distance and detachment provided by digital technology. You are far too safe right now reading my words and reading my body on your computer screen than I’d like for you to be. I attempt to make people aware of who they are and how they might be (sometimes unintentionally) participating in systems of power. To do this I use my body as a site of provocation, as well as a conduit and a receiver of expectation or judgement. I tap into the universal truth that no one feels completely at home in their body, that no one succeeds in a world that teaches us that we constantly need to improve our exterior.
Landscape Stories: What binds you to Diane Arbus?
Zackary Drucker: History.
Landscape Stories: What have you inherited to Marina Abramovic, Gina Pane and Chris Burden?
Zackary Drucker:Transcending body limits and psychic boundaries, compromising territory, self-exploitation, the spectacle of vulnerability. However, I’ve learned more from Ron Athey, Flawless Sabrina, and Kate Bornstein.
Interview curated by Camilla Boemio