When Lou Reed wrote about Holly’s journey from Miami to New York, and from man to woman, in his song Walk on the Wild Side, he created one of the most important verses in music. In those few short lines from 1972 he brought transsexuality into the mainstream consciousness – the track received a surprising amount of airplay for the time, especially given its other references to drugs and prostitution.
A couple of years later, in Switzerland, an exhibition named after Reed’s album Transformer was to prove an equally seminal moment in the visual arts’ relationship with gender issues. Transformer: Aspects of Travesty at the Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, went unreported in Britain, but the event was filmed for Swiss television and later toured Germany and Austria. To mark the exhibition’s 40th anniversary, the London gallery Richard Saltoun is revisiting Transformer, gathering together all the original artists’ work and adding a programme of film screenings and talks surrounding the themes of this ground-breaking show. The closing date is 28 February.