Opening on 23rd February, The Photographers’ Gallery will showcase Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers, an exhibition drawing from the personal collection of collector Sébastien Lifshitz. Focusing on the freedom provided by the art of subverting traditional and historical dressing, the show will display amateur private photographs from Europe and the US of men and women, posing for the camera in cross-dressing fashion. Dating from 1880 onwards. the photos of mostly unnamed and unknown figures, show men dressing as women and vice versa.
Most of these images have been sourced from charity shops, flea markets, garage sales, online auctions. The vast collection offers a candid historical view into the hidden worlds of individuals and groups that chose to defy gender conventions. Lifshitz’s initial collecting impulse was a fascination with the vernacular documentation of cross-dressing. Under Cover offers a captivating insight into Queer and trans spectrum identity and celebrates self-expression. Singular yet anonymous personalities from all professions, nationalities, and classes are featured in these photographs.
Among theatrical highlights, the show will comprise unique images of Marie-Pierre Pruvot, the renowned Algerian-born French transsexual woman who performed under the stage name Bambi, and who was the subject of an award-winning documentary by Lifshitz in 2013. An avid collector of photographs and an award-winning film director, Lifshitz films include Wild Side (2004).