In collaboration with W Washington D.C. and Monochrome Collective, Artist’s Proof is pleased to announce the exhibition Banshees & Queens, featuring D.C. photographer Kate Warren. Warren’s ongoing series which began in 2016, explores gender as performance in photography. A curated selection of her photographs will be on view at the W Washington D.C. this spring. Please join us for the opening reception Thursday, March 8, 2018, at 7 PM at the Living Room of the iconic W Washington D.C. located at 515 15th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004. The exhibition will be from March 1, 2018, to April 29, 2018.
In response to issues on gender and the representation of women during the presidential campaign in 2016, Kate Warren, a D.C. based creative started two series of works - Banshees (2016-2018) and Queens (2018). Both are anthropological photography projects that seek to communicate what it means to be a contemporary feminist and explore ideas around femininity as a performance. Warren sees her role as a photographer as not a documentarian but a director actively engaging with her subjects and informing the content. Through this project, female-presenting, identifying, and non-binary individuals reclaim the dialogue while creating a space that goes beyond society's heteronormative expectations. By deliberately presenting her subjects without a clear gender, Warren’s photographs investigate gender as a performative construct and create a sense of discomfort in the viewer that encourages reflections on those feelings. Through the questions that may arise from introspection, Warren believes that viewers will proactively engage in the discourse on diversity.
In Banshees (see figure 1, Don’t Tell Me To Smile), Warren hosts salon-style feminist discussion groups and then photographs woman presenting or identifying participants in aggressive and predatory ways, showcasing the emotional experience of street harassment.
The work presents an aggression many women are unable to act on, driving discomfort in the viewer that mirrors the uneasiness the subjects themselves feel in their everyday lives. These ‘contemporary American Banshees’ grieve the patriarchal limitations imposed on women and demand that their voices be heard through the din of misogyny. In the photographs, the subjects are aggressively styled in a way that would deliberately elicit unwanted attention. Warren encourages them to reclaim their space and to act on the anger that society forces the participants to repress and find productive power for change. The casting embraces diversity, bringing together small groups of female presenting or identifying individuals with varied backgrounds.
Warren explains that, “these brave spaces create an open dialogue for people to share what it is like to be victimized when leaving their homes; what it is like to be forced to change how one dress, acts or expresses oneself to stay safe; and how women continually apologize because society has taught us that is necessary".
In Queens (see figure 2, One Creates Oneself), Warren further explores identity and gender as performance with Washington D.C. drag queens. These gender-bending performance artists hyperbolically satirize male ideals of femininity through the medium of drag, taking tropes of womanhood and turning them on their head. The queens she photographs range along the identity spectrum, ranging from transgender women to men performing as women, and gender-ambiguous individuals. Warren’s photographs capture the liberation that comes from the removal of gender norms and invites the viewer to celebrate this community’s celebration of humanity.
About the Artist
Kate Warren is a portrait artist who approaches photography as an emotional anthropologist. She hosts a sex podcast ‘Insert Here’ at The LINE Hotel’s Full-Service Radio, which shares non-heteronormative stories on sexuality and identity to combat toxic masculinity and prescribed gender norms. Warren creates work for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Elle, W magazine, and many others. Recent features include the first hijabi woman to be featured in Playboy, 40 shows at New York Fashion Week for The Washington Post, and the Women's March on Washington for the New York Times en Espanol. She was awarded Honorable Mention in Fine Art by FotoWeek (2017), Rising Star Award in Photography by Fashion Group International (2016), First Place in Photo District News’ The Scene competition (2013), and has been honored at the Washingtonian Style Setter Awards (2016) and in Refinery29’s 30 Under 30 list.