Artist and photojournalist Dean Hutton
A genderqueer photographer is furious after a Midrand printing company refused to print the catalogue for her new exhibition, apparently because it includes nude images.
Artist and photojournalist Dean Hutton first sent a mock up of the catalogue for her show #Transitions: in search of an authentic queer to Remata Cross Media Solutions on 22 October.
She also met with a salesperson and visited the company on 23 October to discuss the project, signed off a quote and paid a deposit for the printing.
On Wednesday, she received a call from a representative from the company, claiming that it has a policy to not print nude images and stating that it would not accept the job.
Hutton said in an open letter to Remata that she was “angry but felt powerless and disheartened by your company’s treatment of me, my dignity and my artwork.”
Although she received her deposit back, she said that the issue is not simply about the money.
“It’s not about the time and the effort already expended, the difficulty of now approaching a new printer at short notice and we’re two weeks from opening the exhibition,” said Hutton.
“It’s about the disregard for my work and my rights as an artist and a journalist. It’s about an attempt to silence the queer voice and to hide the queer body. I doubt any such a policy of nudity exists. It’s about the type of nudity and who can be nude on paper. It is a clear case of censorship,” she insisted.
Hutton added: “By failing on numerous occasions to advise and clearly notify me of your ‘no-nudity’ policy and then going further to accept this job by invoicing me and accepting my deposit with receipt of my artwork, you stand in violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
“In addition, your refusal – at very late notice – to print my catalogue, has not only compromised my exhibition but amounts (for arbitrary reasons) to censorship and a violation of my constitutional right to freedom of expression, human dignity, and a violation to my right to equality.”
Hutton has demanded a formal public apology and the company’s “terms and conditions regarding your printing policies.”
She told Mambaonline on Thursday that the company had not responded to her letter and had been deleting comments in her support posted on its Facebook page. The page appears to have now been taken down.
Hutton said that while there are several nude images in the work, “none of the nudes are sexualised, as in none could by any definition be characterised as ‘pornographic’.”
She went on to say: “I now have a whole lot more work to do in preparation for the show and they’ve affected my workload. I have to find a new printer, I’ve spent the whole day requesting new quotes and driving around looking at samples. But that’s not what upsets me.”
“I’m angry that they’ve disrespected me, not just as a consumer but as a queer being. Their refusal to acknowledge my right to be who I am and to make the work in some way about their judgement is unfair.”
In September last year, a Pretoria printing company refused to print material for Health4Men, a national gay men’s health programme, because it had a “moral issue” with the content.
Hutton’s photographic, video and performative media exhibition #Transitions: in search of an authentic queer opens at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg on 19 November as part of the Joburg Photo Umbrella festival.