CANAL is a series exploring gender, belonging, passing, autobiography, persona, and geopolitics. I look at Panama, a group of transgender prostitutes and myself. We all struggle to fit in. We allend up in drag. These photographs document a night when Linette, a Panamanian transgendersex‐worker, dressed me up.
CANAL takes the viewer into the surreal life of transgender sex workers on the fringe of the Panama Canal Zone. Through a series of portraits and landscapes an absurd world is revealed where theater is life, persona masquerades trauma and the photographer adopts the persona of her subjects to describe a place. The transgender bodies are engineered like Panama’s geography and their complicated dynamic as prostitutes resembles the complicated dynamics of Panama’s history.
Panama is an exaggerated example of extensive diversity as a result of worker migration first from slavery and then for the construction of the canal, an exaggerated example of cultural, moral and human compromises, and an exaggerated example of the movement of goods. Panama has the largest disparity of wealth in the Americas with a free trade zone creating millionaires alongside communities of squatters.
In 1903, after France’s failure to build a canal, the US manufactured Panama’s birth as a nation and one of the world’s engineering feats, the Panama Canal. Not only was this construction an enormous experiment in poured concrete, it marked the beginning of globalization as we know it