This piece was first published in #TheFutureByDesign. Click here to download the publication with insights from the leading minds in marketing, creative, technology, media and advertising industries.

The future will not be binary. Dean Hutton on the rise and rise of queer culture.

“The primary reason that I made TRANSITIONS is because essentially in media we tend to constantly make work about others, and this can be a process of othering them.

Picture by Dean Hutton
Picture by Dean Hutton

“I primarily consider myself as a photojournalist. The exchange of photojournalism is of other people and subcultures and experiences outside of oneself, even if your own experience in what you are capturing is lacking. But there is only so much you can communicate outside of yourself without being proficient. However, turning your lens on yourself is the antithesis. It is turning the lens on what you are proficient at, what you can know.

“The classic image of the detached journalist isn’t good enough anymore. Photojournalists are just managing to hide themselves better in the image.

“Actually I am only truly interesting in telling my own story and telling stories through my own experience where I have the ability to participate. Where I am proficient and have some sense of understanding of the experience.

“There is a revolution going down in self-identity politics amongst people who say that they are outside of the binary. There is an understanding that identity is not fixed, that identity exists on a continuum. We are not one thing. What we are shifts daily or by the situation or by virtue of the location we find ourselves in.

“Trying to pin down identity is no longer good enough. You can no longer tell people who they are, you can only invite them to reveal themselves. Identity is improvised and it is location and situation dependent. People are now acknowledging that being human means enabling people the freedom to choose who they want to be. Demanding a consistent identity is oppressive.

“The Search for An Authentic Queer is not about destination. The search is the search. It is a journey of self-discovery. It is a journey in which there is a queer Ubuntu – you are only a queer through other queers. It is through identifying collaborators and allies, and finding what you love, that one can allow oneself to live and feel without boundaries.

“What queer identity is doing is selling queer identity to queer identified people. It happened through fashion and styling.

“Maybe the only space for brands or for marketers in what’s evolving in the queer arena is to watch. The only space really is for brands to watch and to listen and to see what’s happening as it unfolds. This means that the marketer will be relegated to the role of voyeur.”


Dean Hutton (born 1976, South Africa) is a photojournalist and artist who lives and works in Johannesburg. Ongoing fields of interest include: portraiture as co-authorship, social media as narrative, technology as self-reflection, private narratives, public conceits and queer identity as Body of Work. She works across a number of media including photography, video, social media and performance art.

The co-curator of the “not gay as in happy, Queer as in fuck you Film Festival” launched in May 2015, Hutton’s work was exhibited at the LISTE Art Fair (Basel) in June 2014 and The FNB Joburg Art Fair in August 2014. She also had a successful solo show at the Goethe Institut-Johannesburg from November 2014 to January 2015. In 2013, Hutton was featured in the collectable art publication Oodee’s edition titled, POV Female, Johannesburg.

The artist is backed by a 17-year career as an award-winning photojournalist. Most of Dean’s career work is concerned with social issues such as the rights of women and the dispossessed, and giving voice to those who are rarely heard above the furore of mainstream media coverage and middle-class indignation.

A Ruth First Fellow, today Hutton provides regular photojournalism services to the likes of Bloomberg News and Associated Press, as well as The Guardian, Le Monde, The Observer, TIME, Marie Claire, The Mail & Globe, Tages-Anzeiger, BBC Focus on Africa, the Daily Telegraph, Aftonbladet, the Sydney Morning Herald and New Zealand Herald.

As a filmmaker, Hutton’s work has been selected for prestigious film festivals including the African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival in Milan, The International Black Documentary Festival, San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival and most recently the Out in Africa Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

About Dean Hutton

Dean Hutton is a photojournalist who moves beyond the constraints of still imagery, and also practices as a visual artist in video, installation, intervention and performance art. Much of her work is concerned with social issues.

Follow Dean Hutton on Twitter: @2point8photo