“Out-Sight-In In-Sight-Out” examines gender, identity and sexuality through a collaboration between documentary photographer/filmmaker Anja Matthes and June, a transgender homeless teenager. For this project, Matthes visited community centers in New York City, meeting teenagers with whom she collaborated on photographs. It was in one of these centers where she met June.
June drifts in and out of homeless shelters, struggling just to get by in New York City. She engages in survival sex in exchange for money to pay for food and daily expenses, but looks toward the future when she can save enough money for the operations that will make her comfortable in her own skin. Matthes bonded with June and the two embarked on a project that would capture June’s quest for self-identity and independence.
Gender and identity are complicated and deeply personal issues. Matthes’ collaboration with June exposes the intricacies of a story that is seldom discussed, but plagues many homeless youth. Matthes’ ability to draw out an honest voice in interviews stems from her work as a documentary filmmaker and is used to great effect in the depiction of June’s life. Matthes tells a story of one individual’s journey to find herself that encourages empathy in the viewer.
In the shelter, June is unable to put anything on her walls, but at Open Source, there is a place for her to express herself. Chaotic assemblages of compelling photographs, video, and interviews are plastered onto the walls until the gallery resembles a combination of street art and a teenager’s personal space. Tumultuous compositions weave a story, following June’s progress. Her portraits simultaneously depict the joy that comes from being young and the difficulties of a teenager who has seen an incredible amount of personal hardship. “Out-Sight-In In-Sight-Out” examines society’s preconception of sexuality and identity through a personal lens, giving the viewer a glimpse into June’s daily life.
View videos and interviews, here.