In 2003 collectors Robert Swope and Michel Hurst came across a box of albums and snapshots in a New York City flea market. The subject: 1960’s era cross-dressers vacationing at Casa Susanna, a resort in upstate New York. Swope says “I was electrified. I realized instantly that these photographs were extraordinary and something that no one, outside of the group, was meant to see.”
“These photos are not pictures of drag queens exaggerating femininity but men who longed to experience what it would be like to be a woman,” Swope says. “The cost is nominal, the value is acceptance, sociability, freedom of expression, conviviality and satisfaction is tremendous.”
The Art Gallery of Ontario purchased the collection in 2015 with funds donated by Martha L.A. McCain. The snapshots and large prints have a gallery all their own within the exhibition ‘Outsiders: American Photography and Film 1950s-1980s’. This is the AGO’s largest photography show since it reopened in 2008. It features work by such American masters as Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Nan Goldin, Gordon Parks and Robert Frank. Until May 29.
The Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West – http://www.ago.net