Dean Hutton is a genderqueer artist living in Johannesburg interested in portraiture as co-authorship; social media as narrative; technology as self-reflection and provocation. Dean is exploring ways in which to build a love revolution, from their more personal work, to creating relationships and gathering collaborators to make our public and intimate spaces safer through artist-led creation, mentorship and community organising.
Dean was born on the 3 May 1976, to a poor family in Johannesburg, their experiences made them tend towards being an observer of people more than a participant. They constantly drew sketches of people, striving for realism - photo-realism. After completing Matric, they received a bursary to study Communication and English at UNISA, wanting to become a reporter who sometimes took their own pictures.
A church group donated a camera to them in their 3rd year and after teaching herself the basics, they decided to change her focus to photojournalism and passed their Higher Diploma in Journalism with a distinction in 1997 at Rhodes University. They started as an intern at The Star and has been full time photographer at the Mail and Guardian since 1998. They are presently the chief photographer and picture editor of the Mail and Guardian.
Dean works across photography, video, social network/media, performance and community action. They were chief photographer of the Mail & Guardian, a Ruth First Fellow, one of the 200 Top Young South Africans, was awarded an Africa Centre AIR Award & is a POPCAP ‘15 runner up. Dean co-curated the #notgayasinhappy #QUEERasinfuckyou Film Festival in June 2015, and is on the organising committee of the Hillbrow public arts festival. Solo shows @ Goethe JHB; FNB Joburg Art Fair; Pt Ephemere, Paris & ROOM. Dean is a director of The Con magazine, an anti-media media platform founded as a response to the South African media’s unchecked and unacknowledged race, gender and class bias.
In a 20-year career as a photojournalist in Johannesburg Dean was chief photographer at the Mail & Guardian newspaper where their work won several awards. As a photojournalist, their interest is directed towards an in-depth documentation of stories that may not necessarily seem newsworthy. Much of Dean’s work is concerned with social issues, and includes the rights of women, queers and the dispossessed, and giving voice to those who are rarely heard above the furore of mainstream media coverage and middle-class indignation. They have worked extensively and collaboratively with art projects and artists locally and internationally.
Dean said the following about their work:
I am an artist concerned primarily with contemporary socio-political narratives. I am interested in portraiture as co-authorship; social media as narrative; technology as self-reflection and provocation. I am Genderqueer, which is a non-binary transgender identity and my work deals with issues around the gaze, whiteness, capital, body politics, queer identities and radical love. I ask you to address me with gender neutral pronouns They, Them, Their.
I have made images and told stories of people in a multitude of mediums, including photography and video documentary for the past 20 years. More recently I have been extending my art practice in ways that shares those experiences in ever more creative ways, through exhibitions, interventions, installations and performances with an aim to providing a lens for social justice. I have worked and collaborated with visual and performing artists, theatre-makers, filmmakers, dancers and audiences to make work that engages beyond aesthetics. The work democratises the creative process, because it helps people develop a language to articulate their conditions and provide a platform to express their imagination.
In 2016 Dean Hutton entered the Institute for Creative Arts Master's Programme. Their research entitled Plan B, A Gathering of Stranger was born out of the frustration they experienced as a photographer, with the politics of representation and the violence of the gaze. It offers a reinterpretation of intersectional experiences of identity, queerness, colonialism and social justice. Plan B is deeply rooted within Decolonial Practice with reference to the implementation of Decolonial ideals in public performance proposing that site-specific performances can fluidify boundaries, breaking the fourth wall, where both artist and audience collaborate in a dialogue aimed at shifting ideas of power and so-called public space.
Responding to a #feesmustfall student protest in 2016, Dean wore a suit printed with the words "Fuck" "White" and "People" as a catalyst to start everyday conversations around white supremacy, racism and privilege. As well as a decolonial gesture with an aim to destabilise predominately White spaces, to make Whiteness, and attitudes and prejudice of White people, visible. In 2017 Chief Magistrate DM Thulare dismissed charges of hate speech in a landmark ruling.
You can follow Dean's work via their website: www.2point8.co.za
Prizes and awards
- Runner-up 1997 Standard Bank Jazz Festival Scholarship.
- 1997 Rhodes/ Kentmere Photojournalism Scholarship
- Other achievements
- IAJ Photojournalism Workshop 2001
- Practical Community Journalism Workshop 1996
- MISA Lecturer, Botswana 1997: Photojournalism and Internet research for journalists
- The Guardian, The Observer, TIME, Marie Claire, The Star, The Mail & Globe, Tages-Anzeiger, BBC Focus on Africa, The Associated Press, the Daily Telegraph, Aftonbladet, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Star, SL, Style, Drum, Pace Magazine and various other news publications
- After Apartheid: 8 SA Documentary Photographers, 2002 Cape Town
- Month of Photography Visions of the Sacred, Detriot 2000
- Dance Umbrella 1998, The Grahamstown Festival Music@fest 1997, Rhodes Photojournalism Conference
Biographical notes from Dean Hutton.