The series is a correlation of two stages of transformation, pairing teen girls (12-14) with like adult male-to-female transsexuals. The Teen and Transgender Comparative Study is currently showing at The Hammer Museum in Nine Lives, curated by Ali Subotnick. The series is part of a larger project titled The Girl Studies, which includes a short 35mm film titled American Minor that was featured at Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2009 (also on view at The Hammer) and an animation titled OMG BFF LOL that can be experienced online here.
In the images in White’s series, both figures are blossoming into womanhood, though each along a different path. As observers, however, we have been taught to view the subjects in much the same way: with sheer terror.
For just as the original 1950s Invasion of the Body Snatchers warned of Communism’s impending doom, and stories of men with hooks were concocted to frighten young girls from riding in cars with boys, so often have Hollywood summer comedies acted as cautionary tales for the male who would cast his desire toward either the pubescent or transgendered woman. Because in the right skirt or the right application of makeup, each has proved alluring to our hero—or more frequently, his best man, whose idea it was to move the bachelor party to Tijuana.
So while, socially speaking, White’s subjects may represent a threat to our libido, his photos present only their innocence, and hint very strongly at a sense of our own “guilt.”