You may have seen them in Vancouver transit shelters in recent weeks, photographs of women that might not fit society’s usual constructs of what it is to be feminine. But that is exactly what photographer SD Holman is looking to expose.
Unapologetic and undiluted, the images in BUTCH: Not like other girls sets out to honour the beauty, power and diversity of women with subjects reflecting the many sizes, shapes, ethnicities, and styles of what it means to be Butch.
“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward. I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it,” explains Holman as to the origins of the project that will also include an exhibition at The Cultch from April 9 – 25, 2013.
Artistic director of the Vancouver Queer Arts Festival, Holman explains that the public art component, which sees the images displayed in transit shelters through mid-April, was inspired by the Guerrilla Girls who are known for taking art beyond gallery walls and as part of her work with the Association for Non-commercial Culture.
Asked why the subject matter is important, Holman points to a society where people who don’t fit into a world as “normal” are still often maligned.
“Throughout the ages, there have been women who just don’t fit the feminine, as far back as female Egyptian king Hatshepsut,” she explains. “Butch not only forces a reassessment of the body and the queer subject, it challenges and dismantles socialized, role-defined, gender appropriate behaviour. I propose Butch identity not as oppositional to Femme or trans identities, but as an inclusive site of resistance to limitations on the way women, gender, and sexuality are still defined.”
Describing her work described as “conflicted and perverse”, Holman explains those descriptors can be misleading and she isn’t specifically looking for controversy.
“I mean perverse as in contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice, and conflicted as in ambivalent, because I myself am ambivalent about my art, my life, my practice, therefore I am always questioning.” she explains.
An internationally exhibited photo-based artist, Holman hopes BUTCH: Not like other girls is seen as both meaningful and transformative with viewers going “away with a new feeling of seeing beauty in themselves and in others”.
BUTCH: Not like the other girls
9 – 25 April 2013 (Art Party! opening on April 10 @ 6-8pm)
The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver
For more information on SD Holman and BUTCH: Not like the other girls, visit http://sdholman.com.