Photographs capturing the transgender community in Pakistan by Italian photographer Vincenzo Floramo were put on display at an exhibition at 39K Gallery on Wednesday. The exhibition is part of the Aks Festival which opened in the City on Thursday.
Floramo visited Lahore between 2014 and 2015 and photographed the transgender community to highlight their status in Pakistan for a western audience. Most of his subjects were dressed in bright clothes and wore dazzling make-up. The portraits also highlight their everyday trials.
One of the portraits shows 18-year-old Chanda Ashraf in a bright yellow dress as she dances on stage. Money is strewn on the floor. The description underneath the portrait tells Ashraf’s story. It says she left her house when she was 13. Now she lives with her guru and dances for a living.
Another portrait shows 21-year-old Zaini, identified both as a homosexual man and a transgender woman.
Neeli Rani is photographed smoking a cigarette before she has to appear on a morning show. Rani was a transgender rights activist who took the case for the recognition of her gender to the Supreme Court. Pictures of these local transgenders were juxtaposed on a wall with smaller portraits of similar individuals from the West.
The exhibition also showcased a video presentation by Zulfi. The video showed newspaper clippings to highlight various forms of political marginalisation faced by the community.
The exhibition is open till April 20. It aims to bring together photographers to present a rare look at underground lifestyles and sub-cultures.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2016.
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