Opening this summer at the Henry is the second iteration of Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects, an ongoing series of exhibitions organized by Chris E. Vargas, Executive Director of the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art. 99 Objects gathers archival materials and works by contemporary artists that narrate the history of transgender communities. The presentation at the Henry focuses on lives and experiences specific to Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest: individuals including Nell Pickerell (also known as Harry Allen and Harry Livingston [1882-1922]), and Marsha Botzer, transgender activist and founder of Ingersoll Gender Center (1977); and places such as The Garden of Allah, a social gathering space popular in the years after World War II known for its female impersonator cabaret acts. By bringing together these materials, 99 Objects reclaims the history of gender variance and draws lines of kinship across time, while simultaneously pointing to the incomplete nature of this history, including the stories that we will never know because they have not been preserved or never existed but should have.
The name and form of Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects was inspired by the Smithsonian’s book History of America in 101 Objects, which in turn was inspired by A History of The World in 100 Objects, a joint project of the BBC and the British Museum. Vargas’s project takes a critical view of these structures, their institutional function, and history-making in general, reconsidering how transgender people are remembered and recorded. Vargas inaugurated the 99 Objects series of exhibitions at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries in 2015.
The Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art is an imaginary museum Vargas conceived in 2013 with the mission of bringing a cohesive visual history of transgender culture into existence. It takes form as temporary autonomous events, from performances and panel discussions to exhibitions. By design, MOTHA is always “under construction,” a framework that openly questions how a history of transgender individuals, communities, and culture might be organized, and also the relevance of constructing a history around an identity category that is evolving and often contested.
Participating Artists are: Ria Brodell, micha cárdenas, Rhys Ernst, Darius X, The Transfused, Lorenzo Triburgo, Jono Vaughan, and Storme Webber.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website