Hijras - generally known in the west as hermaphrodites or eunuchs - have been part of the South Asian landscape for thousands of years. Marked out because of their sexual difference, they are a despised and neglected minority, lower even than untouchables.

But even though they generally provoke horror or ridicule, they have traditionally had a role to play on the margins of society as entertainers and as bestowers of curses and blessings. People who are building a new house sometimes hire them to dance in each new room, to take away any potential bad luck. They are also hired to dance at weddings and to celebrate the arrival of new-born babies.

But the everyday life of Bangladeshi hijras is far from being a laughing matter. With the spread of modern forms of entertainment --particularly TV-- the call for hijras is drying up. Increasingly, hijras are compelled to earn their livings by collecting money from shopkeepers --a form of mild extortion -- and by prostitution.
Hijras face prejudice and discrimination at every turn. Marked out by their sexual difference, they are hounded out of schools, and hence lack the necessary qualifications to get proper jobs. Its almost impossible for them to vote, to get a passport, or even to open a bank account.

They may be different, but they are proud to be hijras - not lesser beings than ordinary men and women, but a mixture of both - members of the Third Sex.


Simen Johan

In his work Johan explored the unique relationship that children have with the unknown, constructing complex photographic worlds that seem to grow wild from young imaginations. In some images the children are prominently featured, wrapped up in acts of play or ritual as the makers of their own worlds, while in others they've vanished completely, leaving only the enigmatic traces of their mischief.

Simen Johan's work has been widely exhibited internationally, and is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cleveland Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and other major institutions. Johan's first monograph, Room to Play, was published by Twin Palms in 2003. Born in Norway and raised in Sweden, Johan earned his B.F.A at the School of Visual Arts, in New York, where he currently resides.


Jacob Aue Sobol

Jacob was born in Denmark, in 1976 and grew up in Brøndby Strand in the suburbs south of Copenhagen. He lived as an exchange student in Strathroy, Canada from 1994-95 and as a hunter and fisherman in Tiniteqilaaq, Greenland from 2000-2002. In Spring 2006 he moved to Tokyo, staying there 18 months before returning to Denmark in August 2008. He now lives and works in Copenhagen.

After studying at the European Film College, Jacob was admitted to Fatamorgana, the Danish School of Documentary and Art Photography in 1998. There he developed a unique, expressive style of black-and-white photography, which he has since refined and further developed.

In the autumn of 1999 he went to live in the settlement Tiniteqilaaq on the East Coast of Greenland. Over the next three years he lived mainly in this township with his Greenlandic girlfriend Sabine and her family, living the life of a fisherman and hunter but also photographing. The resultant book Sabine was published in 2004 and the work was nominated for the 2005 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

In the summer of 2005 Jacob traveled with a film crew to Guatemala to make a documentary about a young Mayan girl’s first journey to the ocean. The following year he returned by himself to the mountains of Guatemala where he met the indigenous family Gomez-Brito. He stayed with them for a month to tell the story of their everyday life. The series won the First Prize Award, Daily Life Stories, World Press Photo 2006.

In 2006 he moved to Tokyo and during the next two years he created the images from his resent book I, Tokyo. The book was awarded the Leica European Publishers Award 2008.

Thomas Allen

Inspired by a love of the pop-up books of his childhood, Allen revels in creating his scenarios from vintage pulp fiction novels. He peruses mountains of used books, looking for just the right ones to create the most eye-catching combinations of subjects and situations. He then carefully sets up his tableaux with detailed lighting and captures them with his four-by-five-inch camera, using no digital effects whatsoever.

Allen enjoys taking on different roles in creating his scenarios: “In addition to being a photographer, I play talent scout, casting director, stage manager, lighting supervisor, and film editor.” He photographs these engaging scenes in shallow focus, imparting a dreamy effect to his prints reminiscent of the View-Master stereoscopic toy that is amongst his inspirations. His work delights photography lovers, graphic designers, and bibliophiles alike.

Cortney Andrews

Born and raised in Kansas, Cortney Andrews received her BFA in Photography & New Media from the Kansas City Art Institute and her MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

The scenarios depicted in her imagery, often rooted in traumatic experience, reveal the isolation and violence inherent in intimacy and eroticism. The staging of emotional events allows the viewer to witness the female subject actively engaging with her own internal struggles. By taking on and projecting an alter ego, the artist is able to become a participant in and spectator of this reenactment.