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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

REVIEW: Relationship by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst

REVIEW: Relationship by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst

By Elana Kates

Relationship, #44 (Flawless Through the Mirror) © Relationship by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst 2013 Courtesy Prestel

LA based artists Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst produce images of the Nan Goldin-variety—diaristic portraits that are deeply intimate and sincere. Their collaborative series, Relationship, depicts their 6-year romance as a transgender couple, individually transitioning: Drucker to female gender expression, and Ernst to male gender expression. Relationship was initially private, a trivial project distinct from the pair’s more serious artistic pursuits. Drucker operates across photography, film, and performance art while Ernst works as a director and filmmaker. The unintentional nature of these images accounts for their incredibly natural ingenuousness. 

Relationship, #35 © Relationship by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst 2008-2013 Courtesy Prestel

In the opening pages of the book, Drucker and Ernst discuss their previous relationship (the pair have since separated) with remarkable tenderness. These passages are an incredibly relatable introduction to the following images, which depict the artists sometimes together, sometimes apart. Of their romance, Drucker states: “The kind of passionate love that hurts in the center of your chest to recall.” This experience is common, universal. But Relationship also portrays something individual and unfamiliar (or underrepresented). “We made these photographs to imagine a world beyond binary, to record a type of love that hadn’t yet been visualized.” The artists do so, and with a humanizing touch. The subtleties of gender transition are woven into the more unremarkable routine of a long-term relationship. 

Relationship, #23 (The Longest Day of the Year © Relationship by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst 2011 Courtesy Prestel

Relationship, #50 © Relationship by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst 2011 Courtesy Prestel

Article © Elana Kates

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