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Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker didn't intend to turn their lives into a public photography exhibition. They began documenting their relationship through photographs in 2008, and over the next five and a half years, they amassed hundreds of images. The snapshots — taken by them and for them — chronicle Ernst and Drucker's time spent together as lovers and partners. Encouraged by a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Ernst and Drucker selected the 46 photographs featured in Relationship, now on view at the Whitney Biennial. Raw and arrestingly intimate, Relationship chronicles Ernst and Drucker’s private moments as an opposite-oriented transgender couple — over the time period in which the photos were taken, Ernst was transitioning from female to male, while Drucker was transitioning from male to female.
The series presents tender scenes of the pair along with signals of their transitions: a shot of Drucker’s developing chest; the pair standing side-by-side with bandages on their behinds from their latest hormone shots; and other everyday moments from their lives. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I spoke with the artists about their work, their relationship, and their takes on what it means to be trans* today.