Q&A with Multimedia Artist and SVA Alumnus Zackary Drucker

December 5, 2012

From Zackary Drucker‘s (BFA 2005 Photography) website: “The disciple of a silenced, ghettoized community, Zackary Drucker, a young transgender artist/performer from Los Angeles, uses a range of creative devices that all strive towards the portrayal of bodily identity, her own and that of others, obsessively infusing visual media—photographs, videos and performance art—with acute, masochistic emotional compulsions.” SVA Close Up recently had the pleasure of catching up with Drucker via email as she was preparing for the Pulse art fair and party in Miami.

How did you come to have your film shown at Pulse?
My gallery in Los Angeles, Luis De Jesus, has a relationship with Pulse and mediated the presentation of At Least you know you exist. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to share my work in Miami. Pulse has done an amazing job of promoting the film as a part of Pulse Projects, which gets special treatment along-side the gallery booths.

Why did you want to work with Flawless Sabrina?
My ongoing life-collaboration with Flawless Sabrina stared over 11 years ago when I made a photograph of her at “Wigstock,” and promptly put it on my bedroom wall. This was a few days before September 11th and days before I started my Bachelor’s at SVA. Flawless offers me a survival strategy and ample wisdom; she is proof that I can live a sustainable life into old-age, and she is the key to our shared history of queens and transpeople, a past that is far too scarcely documented.

You’re involved in a number of photography collaborations these days. How do they start? What do you find satisfying about that approach?
All of the collaborative work I make grows out of relationships. In the case of Flawless Sabrina, it’s a sort of grandmother/granddaughter dynamic, and a number of my other collaborations are similarly rooted in an alternative familial model. Making work with the people in my life has been integral to my evolution and development as a fully-engaged human. I think art-making, for me, is more powerful when it’s based on interaction or contact; the convention of working in a studio alone always seemed like a vacuum to me.

It strikes me that your versatility in film, video and photography mirrors that of a pop icon. Watching your cooking video on Kickstarter, I thought of Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee channeling Shirley McLaine. What are some of your reference points, culturally?
My cultural interests are pretty disparate and random. I’ve always been a cinefile; I watch a lot of movies! Some recent favorites that resonated and are still heavy on my mind: Mi Vida Loca, An American Family, Harlan County U.S.A., We Were Here. That’s a lot of documentaries. I also love David Lynch, Fellini, Pasolini, Lucretia Martel, Wong Kar-Wei. I live in Los Angeles, so I drive around listening to NPR, and I read magazines more than I watch television. I’m a bit out of touch with pop culture, but thanks to my friends, students, and YouTube, I’m better off than I’d be on my own.

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as more hospitable to transgender art now than when you graduated from SVA?
I’m not confident that the category of transgender art exists yet, but I do feel that the world at-large is opening up to gender non-conforming people in a new way, and I think that the art world is always ahead of the curve with supporting more diverse representations of gender. I feel really fortunate that my work is starting to be recognized by a larger audience, though it’s hard to tell how much I can attribute this to my work evolving in itself, versus the context (of the art world) expanding—I suppose it’s both.

How has your work evolved since your time at SVA?
Well it’s been a while, but the main difference is that I started working with a more interdisciplinary/multimedia approach. Much of my work at this point is live performance, video/film, installation, or spoken text; at SVA I was working exclusively with photography.

What are you most looking forward to seeing in Miami this year?
Friends, fashion, art, and the ocean… Everything and nothing, simultaneously.

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