“Out-Sight-In In-Sight-Out” examines gender, identity and sexuality through my collaboration with June, a transgender homeless teenager. For this project, I visited community centers in New York City, meeting teenagers with whom I collaborated on photographs. It was in one of these centers where I 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. I bonded with June and we embarked on a project that would capture June’s quest for self-identity and independence. 

Gender and identity are complicated and deeply personal issues. In collaboration with June we expose the intricacies of a story that is seldom discussed, but plagues many homeless youth. 

In the shelter, June is unable to put anything on her walls, but at the exhibition at Open Source Gallery, 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. 

Anja Matthes

Anja Matthes is a Luxembourgian/German documentary photographer, videographer, and visual storyteller based in New York City.
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