April Dawn Alison

Made over the course of some thirty years, the photographs in this exhibition depict the many faces of April Dawn Alison (1941–2008), the female persona of an Oakland–based photographer who lived in the world as a man. Upon her death, Alison left an archive of over nine thousand Polaroid photographs, the vast majority self-portraits.

This previously unknown body of work begins in the late 1960s or early 70s with tentative explorations in black-and-white, and evolves in the 1980s into an exuberant, wildly colorful, and obsessive practice inspired by representations of women in advertising, classic Hollywood cinema, and pornography. An extraordinary long-term exploration of a private self, the Alison archive contains photographs that are beautiful, funny, enigmatic, and heartbreakingly sad, sometimes all at once.