PREVIEW: ‘Dry your eyes princess’

Trans* military veterans are the focus of Museum of Liverpool exhibition.

Photo by Stephen King

Photo by Stephen King

Following a collaboration with trans* military veterans and Liverpool John Moores University, the Museum of Liverpool will be hosting a special exhibition by award-winning photographer Stephen King.

Exhibited in partnership with Homotopia, Dry Your Eyes Princess opens Wednesday, December 16, 2015 until Sunday, January 31 2016.

12 large-scale portraits examine the link between the sitter’s gender identity and their experience of military service.

The title is an ironic re-appropriation of the derogatory command to toughen up, that is to “dry your eyes princess”, heard by many of the exhibition’s participants whilst serving in the British Armed Forces.

The portraits are of people from Liverpool and other parts of the country who participated in research conducted by Dr Emma Vickers, Senior Lecturer in History, at Liverpool John Moores University. Her work examined their experiences of life before, during and after service in the British Armed Forces. It is the first research in Europe to focus on trans* veterans and likewise, King’s photographic response is the first to look at trans* experiences of military service through visual art.

Dr Vickers’ research uncovered that trans* people in the armed forces were dismissed in significant numbers before the ban on openly-trans* personnel was lifted in Britain in 1999.

She said: “Many interviewees said that they joined the services as a form of therapy, in the hope that the hyper-masculinity of the Forces would rid them of the discomfort they felt with their gender identity.”

King’s photographs are based on their oral testimonies as well as his own conversations with each sitter.

He said: “Working with each participant, I was able to construct a portrait, not based upon each person’s identity, but on their experiences, using settings that were influential and meaningful.

“I am in a privileged position to collaborate with Dr Vickers and deliver what has been a fascinating project and humbling process”.

This is King’s second exhibition at a National Museums Liverpool venue. In 2010, Lewis’s fifth floor: a department story attracted record visitors to the National Conservation Centre.

Jen McCarthy, Deputy Director of the Museum of Liverpool, said: “Dry Your Eyes Princess comes after the groundbreaking Homotopia exhibition April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady that attracted almost one million visitors during its run. As a campaigning social justice museum, we actively engage with the diversity of the city, particularly its people and communities, and their stories. It’s great to work alongside photographer Stephen King again, as well as Liverpool John Moores University and Homotopia; people and organisations who share similar values to us, at the forefront of something unique – another Liverpool first!”

For more information about The Museum of Liverpool, click here:

Photo by Stephen King

Photo by Stephen King

Homotopia is an arts and social justice organisation. It draws on the LGBT experience to unite and regenerate communities through the production, promotion and commissioning of great art, heritage and culture for everyone.

The Homotopia Festival, which was founded in 2004, takes place every Autumn across Liverpool. This year’s festival started with a photographic exhibition by Deutsche Borse nominated Zanele Muholi and includes; prize-winning authors of fiction and non-fiction Diana Souhami and Sarah Waters, premieres of new theatre and dance, rare and classic films, two transgressive, ground-breaking museum exhibits and a debate about art and activism.

Homotopia is funded by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation and by Liverpool City Council.

For more information about Homotopia, click here:

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