ABOUT THE ARTIST
Robert Hamblin (1969) is an artist, father and a gender activist. His fine art work is concerned with masculinity, power, whiteness and the performance of these constructs. Hamblin’s conceptually driven, painterly photographic works has been exhibited locally and internationally (list of exhibitions included). The artist has received critical acclaim for his compelling works that contribute to debates around body politics in a post-apartheid era. He lives in Muizenberg Cape Town with his partner Sally-Jean Shackleton and their daughter Georgia Asemahle.
Hamblin’s InterseXion unfolds in three series’, The Sistaaz Hood, Diamond Town Girls and the installation Intersections. This exhibition is centred on the artist’s photographic images, voice and video installations pertaining to sex work in South Africa, in particular work with transgender women (male to female) who sell sex. Through this thought provoking and compelling exhibition, Hamblin joins an active and ongoing debate around the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa and the social-political issues surrounding individuals in the industry, wherein transgender women are described as the most vulnerable populations.
A narrative that Hamblin continues to explore through his work is that of the complexities around sex work in South Africa. Since 2011, Hamblin has been producing bodies of photographic work with trans women sex workers. He has done so because of an interest in the subject matter, but also in an attempt to present their experiences as a macro reflection of the fault lines in society. How do we as privileged persons intersect with sex worker’s lives and how are we directly and inadvertently implicated in their struggles? How does his own trans identity as a privileged person contrast with that of a homeless trans sex worker?
His interest in the conceptual potential of the subject matter was evoked by his involvement at the organization SWEAT (Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Task Force) in 2011. Before volunteering at SWEAT, Hamblin was a founder member and advocacy manager at Gender DynamiX, an organisation concerned with transgender rights. At SWEAT he was asked to assist a group of transgender women who worked as sex workers, to form a support group. Delving into his own knowledge and experiences as a trans person and advocate, he could assist the group with advocacy planning. Being a volunteer relieved him somewhat of the constraints of pure advocacy and during the work with these women he found the intersection for his art practice and activism. The Sistaaz Hood support group was born and their first goal was to create an art project with Hamblin. The first series of works with them carries the same name. The works aims to elicit an interest with viewers to review contrived notions of sex workers and trans people. During the collaborations with The Sistaaz Hood (Cape Town), and later the Diamond Town Girls (Kimberley), Hamblin allows his models to become co-creators of the works. “In a process of consultations with the participants, their frustrations became the portal, or the lens through which I approached this project. There was a range of issues; I came to realise that if you ever want to glean society’s perception of trans issues, or even gender issues, these participants’ lives provide a space within which such matters are severely concentrated. It is the space where gender, class and race intersect and leaves an indelible mark on the lives and bodies of these participants” Hamblin explains.
2016 - InterseXion- installation at District Six Museum Homecoming Centre
2015 - Daughter Language – Lizamore & Associates Johannesburg
2014 - The Colony – University of Johannesburg Gallery Johannesburg
2013 - The Colony (Under Construct) – Aardklop National arts festival
2013 - “..When You’re Feeling Like a Lady..” (The Sistaaz Hood) – SWEAT & African Gender Institute UCT & Klein Karoo National arts festival
2007 - Father – Out in Africa Film Festival & Hamburg LGBT Film Festival
2006 - The Binary Farm – KKNK National Arts Festival and Aardklop National Arts festival
2002 - The Inner Room – University of Johannesburg Art Gallery
2000 - The Post Christian – Open Window Art Academy & Aardklop National Arts festival
1998 - Millennium Man – KKNK National Arts Festival & Aardklop National Arts festival
1993 - In a Different Light - Private Theatre studio
Representation and Its Limits – New Museum New York/MIT Press Critical Anthology on Trans Cultural Production & the Politics of Visibility, 2017
2015 - Review Daughter Language – Beeld
2015 - Art that explores fatherhood and transracial adoption – Mail and Guardian
2014 - Review Colony - Maandblad Zuid-Afrika, 2014
2013 - Fotograaf wys transgender-reeks – Network 24
2013 - Identiteit vervaag in foto’s by – Network 24
2006 - Gender: The Binary Farm