Cross-dressing is a phenomenon that has been entwined with the photographic medium since the beginning. Today, the most vibrant platform for its embodiment is Instagram. The exhibition You’ve Gone Incognito presents photographs and short film pieces in which artists and their models enact female roles—from housewives to socialites, wealthy matrons to femme fatales. Roland Barthes stated that ‘the Photograph’s essence is to ratify what it represents, and here we have what cross-dressers seek. The medium of photography enables them to construct the ‘girl-within, with the photos then serving as tangible evidence of the manifestation of their female identity. The photo and video sessions presented in the exhibition unfold in the artists’ private quarters, often in intimate situations. They are staged with amateur means (in line with DIY principles), which additionally enhances the authenticity, lack of embarrassment, courage, and humour emanating from documentation of these activities.
Artists, as anonymous creators posing in private interiors before their own lenses—just themselves and the camera, perhaps with a witness or two—can feel safe. They can experiment, be provocative, transgress norms, fulfil fantasies, play house; become a movie star, a model, a singer, a hairdresser, a slut and a saint. In general, they can be whoever they want—and not be themselves when they don’t feel like it. They enter their very own private mode, like a web user opening an ‘incognito’ window.