Transgender Sex Workers Explored In New Dutch Photography Exhibition

Photographer Jan Hoek (1984, NL) and fashion designer Duran Lantink (1987, NL) are presenting Sistaaz of the Castle, a project about the colourful looks of transgender sex workers that roam the streets of Cape Town, South Africa. Together they created a series of photographs and a fashion collection around their fashionable appearances, and their ability to make the most exuberant creations of everything they find. We are pleased to present the show during FashionWeek Amsterdam and the exhibition at Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam.  

The local sex workers’ organization, S.W.E.A.T., gave Jan and Duran the opportunity to meet and collaborate with their transgender support group Sistaazhood. For this project, Jan and Duran zoom in on six girls from the community: Coco (25), Cleopatra (23) Sulaiga (30), Gabby (29) Flavinia (33) and Joan Collins (57).

Most of the girls are homeless, living under a bridge beside the castle of Cape Town. Jan Hoek made photographs of them, their lives and their outfits. The documentary images serve as a lookbook for the collection of Duran Lantink. The designer was inspired by the creative ability of the girls to produce beautiful creations from found garments. He recognized a similarity to his own process, using different recycling methods and collage techniques.

Along with the creations, the artists were interested in how the girls would like to look if they had unlimited possibilities. One of the girls would like to work in a luxurious Victorian brothel. The 57-year-old Joan Collins dreams of a wedding dress and a third wants to become Miss Africa. All these fantasies are translated into a dream-couture capsule collection by Duran, which is also photographed by Jan.

In addition to the fashion show and exhibition, a printed publication (APE) will be published and distributed worldwide in March 2016. Eventually, Jan and Duran will return to South Africa to present the Sistaaz of the Castle project on its original site. Usually, transgender sex workers are presented as perpetrator or victim in the South African media. The girls of Sistaazhood expressed their wish to be seen positively in the news.

Duran Lantink (1987) is the wild child of fashion in the Netherlands. In 2013 he graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and is now following the Master’s program Fashion Matter at the Sandberg Institute. His collections, styling and exhibitions contain honest messages and are a dizzying remix of anything that inspires him. He received national and international acclaim for his towering 3D printed shoes. They have been exhibited at the Louvre in Paris and the MET in New York, among other places. As a stylist and designer, Duran has worked for several magazines, including Vogue, Glamcult and D&A Mexico.

Jan Hoek (1984) photographs amateur models, homeless people in Africa who look like kings, a girl with no arms and legs that constantly wants to be photographed, heroin addicts with a modelling dream, or people he found through an advertisement on Marktplaats, the Dutch online marketplace. Jan Hoek graduated in 2012 from the Image and Language program at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. His first solo exhibition, Me & My Models, was held at Foam. His work has been published in Foam Magazine, Vice, Mister Motley, GUP, NRC Handelsblad and Het Parool. Jan also exhibited in Antwerp, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Jakarta, Shenzhen, Lagos, Miami, London and New York. Jan Hoek is represented by Gallery Ron Mandos in Amsterdam.

The collection is presented during FashionWeek Amsterdam at the Gashouder on January 16 at 19:00. The MBFWA OFF SCHEDULE Foam exhibition opens on January 13 at 17:30 and is on view until January 20.

Sistaaz of the Castle is made possible by the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Art of Impact, MiaP Foundation, Fonds Kwadraat, Fotolab Kiekie, SWEAT, Vice Media and various donors.

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