I try not to take photographs but to make them. For a long time I tried to be a fly on the wall and even when I thought I had succeeded my presence and intent intervened. Now, as I approach work as myself, doing the opposite of trying to hide, directly intervening and self-reflecting, I find that the veil drops away more often, that the magic of people becoming what they are acting out in front of my lens is more possible, because I am giving them the same vulnerability, as humans do when they try with all their hearts to be themselves in a simulated society.
As a social being, my work has always explored - and perhaps always will explore stories of many liminal communities: the seriously marginalised, immigrants, the disenfranchised, women and the poor. The work is not pedagogic but rather poetic in its approach and allows space for reflection and humour.
This project looks for answers to the questions: What is poverty? And what is it’s relationship to race?
White poverty is not new, or specific to South Africa. Yet perceptions of who can or cannot be poor (or rich) persist in the mind of many of her citizens.
In a country where the gap between rich and poor is ever-increasing, poverty in South Africa no longer has an exclusively black face. More and more white people are joining the ranks of the poor on a daily basis. Poverty is becoming less of a racial issue and more of a South African problem.
Having been deprived of some of their privilege, job reservation, and extensive state support, the white poor are now seeking ways to adapt or at least survive.
This project first appeared in the Con. http://www.theconmag.co.za/2014/03/06/zamazama4life/
Illegal mining operations are believed to cost South Africa over US$500-million each year. Very little attention is paid to the human cost. In South Africa, illegal miners are known as “Zama Zamas”. Zama Zamas typically work existing mine shafts that have been abandoned or closed by large mining houses. Zama Zamas gain illegal access to these shafts either through force – by breaking and entering through security perimeters – or bribery. In either case, it is increasingly difficult and expensive to get underground so, once the Zama Zamas have entered a mine shaft they have to stay underground for months at a time, invisible citizens of an almost surreal subterranean state. Over the past three years, Photographer Dean Hutton has chronicled parts of the above-ground lives of these Zama Zamas, documenting the fractured nature of their work and their nominal family lives. Dean’s work highlights the parts of the Zama Zama story the mining houses and government is not comfortable talking about: the cycle of poverty, crime and death that keeps these men’s lives in the shadows, in the tunnels.
I, Joburg is an ongoing series of photographs exploring a personal, often ironic,humorous and queer vision of home, Johannesburg. Nadine Hutton creates mediated experiences of the city and its queer artistic landscape. All photographs are made on an iPhone, a tool which naturally tends to intimacy and immediacy and are shared almost instantaneously on social networks via instagram to her posterous and tumblr blogs.
This project will be exhibited at ROOM, an urban art project space in Braamfontein, opening 5 September 2012 to 29 September 2012.
The images and the text that follow are the documentation of the experiences of a life being realised in real time. And for the most part shared immediately on social media. This me, Dean.
#luckydean is someone who didn’t exist a couple of years ago. I birthed myself, named myself, born of the ashes of a woman called Nadine.
She wasn’t not me, but she was a potential. A potency that would become this queer being when I decided to stop writing my life and just let it happen. The script needed to be thrown out and a new performer cast.
Dean was conceived in New York over a horny, howling month by the black-latexed hands of sex positive kinky gender non-conforming beings who had named themselves, and fuck the binary. I am who I say I am and that is different.
I took one tool to NYC, and that was my iPhone. Set to Hipstamatic and 8mm Vintage Camera, plugged into Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, I have shared almost everything since. It is often #NSFW. I’ve travelled, played, and loved from New York, to Los Angeles, Paris and to Cape Town and at home in Joburg.
My mission is to explore how these new avenues have changed how we interact as communities; how we physically live on an international stage in the virtual; and how these media possibilities have empowered the liminal voice to shout, to be, without restriction. The accessibility of the tools reflects another interest: in making art that is utterly consumable, simply and beautifully bridging the gaps between artist, subject and the audience’s relationship to us. My interest remains the narratives of people who inform social concerns. so I make work for people, not for art’s sake, nor for artist’s sake. It is work made within and for public spaces and the people occupying them. It is visceral, immediate. Not an exercise but a story: feelings, friendship, human beings being human. Love.
The technology is as freeing as being queer. It is prolific; a fast-moving self-reflection worth years of contemplation by action. And though I don’t publish every single thing and am not interested in diarising my life, a lot of what I do immediately share is instinctual, within the trajectory, the transition and the framework of social being. In the same way that queer has unleashed me from myself, the technology fascinates and pre-occupies me, enabling me to release myself from concerns about what is cool and allowing me to self-reflect in public. I find the risk in that inspiring, and I am obsessed with it. The confession of my vulnerability, my acceptance of it, and the sharing of that experience with everyone else who is living out there too.
I love the way that the online public world makes us aware of our impersonations. And I love flying a kite – beautifully – in the hurricane. The speed, my CPU and heart rate accelerate as I find that, while technology might increase the mediation of our lives it gives us the potential to mediate our own experiences. That’s powerful.
Life is a continuum, creation is re-invention. Queer. Not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck you, I’m happy.
Dean Hutton, 2014
Dean’s Bed is Love, intimacy, dreams, longing, conceit, queerness, identity, authenticity and beauty.
Made by Dean Hutton, with people, not of subjects – Chosen family, old friends, new friends, artists. Working, playing, with the participants to reveal, but not capture, ultimate expressions of self… a naked… bare self that holds agency. Shifting photographer to participant, creating relationships and abandoning distance.
Like much of the artist’s work, this series of intimate portraits challenges what is “normal” outside of binary concepts of gender, embracing fluidity and a comfortable expression of difference. These issues of difference are particularly complex within an African context where Hutton’s white skin often places them as foreign to the continent while belonging nowhere else. Hutton deals deeply with the issue of whiteness in much of their work, particularly in their attempt to deconstruct the destructive possibilities of the white gaze and working with participants, never subjects, to disrupt the power relationships in the act of photography.
Dean’s Bed was presented at the 2014 Liste ArtFair Basel and FNB Joburg Artfair by Maria Fidel Regueros and ROOM gallery.
A collaboration between Dean Hutton, Anna Christina Lorenzen, Jill Richards, Jaco Van Den Heever and Alberta Whittle. In The Cradle, we present a series of performative gestures, which address the implications of occupying the South African landscape. The installation will sit somewhere between documentary, ethnographic study and fiction. The whiteness of Van Den Heever’s and Lorenzen’s skin identifies them as non-belongers or invaders, but with the international branding of South Africa as a ‘rainbow nation’, can they ever become part of this land? Whittle’s brown skin identifies her as ’coloured’, again evidence of a hybrid, not necessarily ‘African’ body, can she ever belong? 2014 intends to be a vast celebration of South Africa’s 20 years of democracy, but how democratic are we? Does everyone belong? How comfortable are we, with this ‘rainbow nation’ title? And who exactly are ‘we’?
A collaboration between Toni Morkel, Dean Hutton, Fred Koenig, Ebrahim Medell, Mmakgosi Kgabi, and Roberto Pombo. Photographs & Video by Dean Hutton. Commissioned by the 2012 Grahamstown National Arts Festival, in participation with the French Season in South Africa, the artists workshopped a series of public art perfomances and travelled by road through South Africa, stopping to perform and intervene in small towns.
Nounouche meets a troupe of out-of-work freak show artists and invests in the troupe, taking them on a wide ride through the country as Nounouche, The Sideshow. For the research period a life size Nounouche was taken on several journeys in and around Johannesburg, where she performed with other characters, and interacted with members of the public, in search of a narrative. What became most apparent is the desire of the public, who were being performed to, to perform. Moving from subject to object, audience to performer, challenging perceptions of the other.
Nounouche, The Installation was exhibited at Point Ephemere in Paris, France in September 2013 as part of South African Season in France.
This project hinges on collaborations with queer artists, documenting lives and creating, giving voice to the narratives around their identities and personas which are in flux, shifting the work from documentary to performance and blurring the line between the two, moving from a visual representation of the Other into a visual representation of the ‘we.’ The process is thus completely collaborative and experiential as I am clearly also documenting and acting out my self, using the process to reveal narratives of observation, interest and intimate participation and experience in a moving world.